In September 2016, long-time student and former FPMT center director George Manos and a team of three volunteers journeyed from Australia to Chailsa, Nepal, to offer dental care to the villagers living there. With the help of four porters, the team organized a shipment of over 330 pounds (150 kilos) of dental equipment and supplies. George described to Mandala the evolution of this undertaking, called Project Yeti, and what he and his team was able to accomplish on their last visit:
In 2012, my wife Helen and I established a fully equipped dental clinic in the Lama Yeshe Medical Building at Kopan Monastery. We started with an empty room and the equipment that I brought from Australia. Five years later, there are three dental units in the room fully fitted for modern restorative dentistry. Over twenty dental personnel have given up their time to treat the monks and nuns of Kopan Monastery and Nunnery.
Over the years, Kopan Monastery has helped support Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery and nearby Sagarmatha Secondary School, unique because it provides Buddhist teachings for the village children living in the impoverished villages of Solu Khumbu. The school is expanding and plans to educate up to 200 children from primary school through to high school. Kopan’s Ani Fran suggested that the villagers would benefit if I was willing to go there to provide dentistry. We currently visit Chailsa once a year.
During our last visit, we worked for five days from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., examining over 100 patients and completing 150 restorations, fifteen extractions and eleven scale and cleans. We were moved by the experience and the awareness that many villagers had never previously had dental treatment. I examined one elderly monk, for example, who was concerned that his teeth were too sharp—every tooth in his mouth was decayed and broken. Quickly realizing that it would serve little purpose to extract his teeth, I picked up the drill and rounded off every sharp edge. He was so grateful that his teeth were no longer cutting his mouth.
People walked for two days for treatment. When we learned that, we knew that we had to come back. My fellow dentist John Denton drew up a five-year plan to ensure that we established a clinic there.
Our next trip is in September 2017, when we will take up equipment that will remain at the settlement. By the time of our April 2018 visit, we hope to have sufficient equipment there for future dental teams to utilize.
None of this of course would have been possible without the assistance and support of both Kopan Monastery and Thubten Shedrup Ling. And we are so grateful for the hospitality provided by Geshe Yonten.
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