School of Dentistry alumnus takes group to Ethiopia
Dr. and Mrs. Richard Parker and their team pose for a photo with some of their patients at Gimbie Hospital.
A Loma Linda University School of Dentistry graduate, Richard Parker, DDS, and a team of current dental students, recently returned from another overseas medical missionary trip—this time to Ethiopia on the African continent.
The team consisted of Dr. and Mrs. Richard Parker, their dental student son, Scott, with his physician wife, Erika, and dental student Tate Montgomery from Redlands. The students are from the senior class of the School of Dentistry, Loma Linda University. The team spent two weeks providing dental and medical services at Gimbie Hospital, a Seventh-day Adventist medical center in western Ethiopia.
More than 350 people were served during their time in Africa, reports Dr. Parker. In addition to service at the hospital, the team traveled to the remote countryside to serve local nationals who also rarely have dental care available.
Earlier last year, Dr. Parker and his son, Scott, traveled to the Pacific island of Yap where they provided dental services in the island’s only hospital.
Both of the trips were sponsored by the service learning department of the School of Dentistry, Loma Linda University, where Scott and Tate are fourth-year dental students.
The team’s target area, Gimbie, is located approximately 450 kilometers west of Addis Ababa, the capital city of the nation. After a time change of 11 hours with 30 hours to get to Addis, the team then traveled another 11 hours over rough dirt roads with numerous potholes.
After spending several days at the mission hospital, the team went with two Catholic nuns from Ecuador to a village to help people with painful teeth that needed to be removed. The team also had the opportunity to provide dental care three other days at an orphanage and villages within 75 kilometers of Gimbie. Since there were no dental chairs available in the bush villages, the dentists did their professional care with each patients lying on a simple bench with his/her head cradled on the doctor’s lap.
Before leaving the country of nearly 70 million persons, Dr. Parker and his team spent a third week with Erika’s sister, Heather, who works in Addis Ababa. The Parkers report that “she had planned a wonderful time for us to explore the capital city, travel to a game park in the south, and to visit the remarkable underground churches of Lalibela in the north.”
Dr. Parker operates a private dental practice in Calimesa. Earlier in his career, he was a member of the faculty of the School of Dentistry at Loma Linda University. At one time, the Parker’s served as missionaries at a dental clinic on the island of Guam in the Western Pacific Ocean region.
By Don Roth