Power of ONE: #TeamCI member gives kids a reason to smile

Many of us don’t give a lot of thought to our smiles — smiling happens reflexively. But for kids who haven’t experienced regular dental care, a simple smile can be a painful experience. Dentist Javier Alberto Ruiz Pérez loves that he can change that for kids who are sometimes embarrassed by their teeth.

Javier has been practicing dentistry for 15 years. He’s a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and he lives there with his parents and one of his brothers. His clinic is located on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula in a town called Potrerillos. Every morning, he travels from Potrerillos to CI's Vida Nueva community center and provides dental services to kids there for half the day.

Javier learned about Children International through friends who were working there. The organization caught his attention when he found out the work his friends were doing was with kids. Javier shares how working with CI has really given him a different perspective on the experiences of the neediest children in Honduras. He appreciates that he’s been able to help children in many different regions.

Read Javier’s interview to find out what the “power of (every) ONE” means to his work as a dentist.

Q: What has been your best experience with CI?

Seeing a child’s development — and when he has gone from being a child to a teenager and then seeing him as an active member of society, and knowing that I was part of his formation. It is quite gratifying.

Q: In what unexpected way has being involved with CI changed your life?

Seeing how every one of us influences a child’s development. We’re helping to lay a good foundation. We’re having a significant impact on how a child continues to develop over the years. I’ve been working with the organization for 10 years and it’s very touching to see how a child evolves.

Javier has been a dentist with CI in Honduras for 10 years.

Q: Tell us about a person who has had a great influence in your life.

My parents have taught me respect for work, admiration and generosity that you must have toward other people, and to help others as much as you can and when they need it most.

Q: What does "Unleash the power of (every) ONE" mean for you?

Everyone is a link in this organization. Each link is chained with others who are our partners. We all have a mission to fulfill and we must do it well, because that’s the power we have — the power to do our work well so that there is a real integral development of the child.

Q: Do you remember any especially rewarding moments?

About a year ago, I was walking in downtown San Pedro Sula and met a young man who [asked how I was doing.] And I stared. I could not remember him — there are so many people I've attended to. He told me, “Doctor, you do not remember me, but I remember you. You treated me when I was a kid in Children International.” He told me that he had low self-esteem at that time because he had problems with his teeth, which we were able to solve for him and that raised his self-esteem. That is so gratifying.

It is a tremendous joy being recognized for something good that you did during a child’s development. 

Javier takes a selfie with a patient

Javier’s greatest joy is seeing his patients smile again.

Q: How do you feel knowing you’ve raised the self-esteem of many young people here?

There have been many cases in which parents have told me, “My son doesn't smile and prefers not to speak. At school he is quiet.” And, often, they don't realize why until the child comes here and they see that apart from restoring esthetics, I’m improving oral health.

Then, the child starts wanting to come to treatments because he is noticing the changes. And it shows, because he's laughing again, and when the treatment is over, the gratification for us is to see the joy. And the best reward is a hug from that child!

There is an influence, which is why we must do it — be empowered by our work and be successful because we are part of that link.

Keep reading! Meet more of our awesome ONEs!

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