ANTECEDENTS: Guinea Bissau in West Africa is the poorest country in the world, according to some reports. The inhabitants of the eastern region of Gabú are primarily Muslim. There are several mesquites along with churches in the town. The law in Guinea Bissau which permits freedom of religion is respected there, unlike in other Muslim countries. If a woman converts to Christianity, for example, her husband may prohibit her from going to church, but she is not killed.
The main form of transportation in Gabú is walking, but there are also bicycles, motorbikes, taxis, and even a few cars and pickups. The only paved road from the capital ends at Gabú. The climate is very hot and humid. From February to April the temperature reaches 110°F almost every day. In October, the daily high is about 99°F. The rainy season is from May to November, and it rains hard.
Building material for houses ranges from bricks (the nicest) to woven mats, cardboard, and plastic. Most houses have a curtain rather than a door. Houses often have a porch with large woven mats enclosing them. People sleep in this porch area due to the heat. The nicer homes, made of brick have doors, an enclosed porch of brick in front, and usually a brick wall around the entire house. There is no electricity in most houses.
Many people cook over wood stoves. The staple is rice with few vegetables or fruits. Fish and beef are sold in the market.
In Gabú there is a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) base with six families, five of whom have children. Four single missionaries live there, as well. All are from Brazil and Guinea Bissau, save one single nurse from the U.S. The base has houses made of brick, with nice front porches. It has a generator, which produces electricity two hours in the morning and three hours at night. It also has well that distributes water to all the houses on the base and to the clinic. People from the community are welcome to come and fill water containers, too, at another well.
The clinic on the base is open Monday through Friday and has six divisions: 1) wounds, 2) children who are malnourished, 3) laboratory for diagnosing malaria, 4) dental clinic for those who need dental extractions, 5) pharmacy, where some prescription medicines are sold, and now 6) the dental lab for making prosthesis.
There is also a school on the base (K-12) with about 200 students.
THE PROBLEM: The YWAM base has prayed for many years that the Lord would provide for a dental lab. Recently Missionary Augusto Pecho, having heard of the great necessity, went from the U.S. with his wife, Carolyn, and daughter, Chaska, to train dental technicians. He took teeth, wax, and other materials, some of which were donated and some of which he bought in order to work for two months. The family stayed from February to April 2015. Most of the equipment available on the base had been borrowed from a missionary dentist in a neighboring region who does not yet have a dental lab.
Many people had had their teeth extracted, but most had not been able to have prosthesis made, as there are NO DENTAL TECHNICIANS IN THAT REGION. Word began to spread and people began to come, so that the trainees worked as apprentices, receiving instruction and practical experience at the same time. One patient was a former administrator of the local bank, who said he had been to three countries trying to get a good prosthesis, and that the one Augusto made was the best he had found. Another was the “king” (political leader) of the Fula people, a man of considerable influence. Both were satisfied with the prosthesis made for them.
Now that Augusto and his family have left, two of the trainees, Pastor Fona and Rui, continue to make prosthesis. The report they sent indicates that they are working steadily, at a rate they can handle. They are using the manual Augusto left them, but they need a lot more instruction.
Augusto was impressed by the necessity of the humble people who do not have any option to replace the pulled teeth with dental plates or bridges. He also noticed the lack of dental hygiene. He observed the possibility getting a good dental lab up and running if he and his family are there on site for an extended time. Because of all these factors, Augusto has purposed to return with his family in 2016, Lord willing, for a year or more, if necessary, to prepare the two men who are working, along with some others, and to supervise them until they can do well independently. He also hopes to help improve the health of the population by educating children and adults in Gabú and surrounding communities.
The equipment and materials needed are listed below. There is NO PLACE TO BUY THESE THINGS in Guinea Bissau. The only way to get them is to bring in. Most have been brought from the U.S. and Brazil, and some have been purchased from neighboring Senegal at about three times what they would cost in the U.S. or Brazil. Purchasing things in Senegal involves traveling by land, purchasing a visa, then going by river to Dakar, a 12-hour trip one-way.
If a large quantity were provided, then a container would be needed to transport them. Two missionary families have shipped containers, so we know it can be done, but we need more information and, of course, our Lord’s generous provision.