The fall of 1989 was a truly pivotal time for me. I was in my senior year of college; a Biology/Spanish major, and considering a career in the health field. I was approached by friends at my church to attend a meeting regarding a group that traveled to Guatemala to provide medical and dental care, as well as build “wooden shack” houses for the indigenous Ixil Indians living in small villages there. Since I speak Spanish, I was told I could work as a translator. I was interested, yet, as a college student, did not have the funds to be able to afford the travel expenses. I was later given anonymous letters from a number of secret donors that provided sufficient funds for me to go on the trip. I strongly feel that donation was that “pivotal moment for me”. My life perspectives, and my future goals changed during that trip. I ended up assisting a local St. Louis dentist who was also on the trip, and translated for him. We later had the chance to talk about dentistry and I decided that week to pursue dentistry as a career. Since then, I have traveled at least once a year on mission trips to Guatemala, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Nepal and have provided much needed dental care to countless people who otherwise would have no access to care.
Needless to say, that trip changed my life and I’m forever grateful to those “secret donors” who made that possible for a young college student. That small investment was a small seed that later grew to produce much fruit.
-Mark Fernandez DDS
Pediatric Dentistry of Sunset Hills