Monte Flor, found in Chichicastenago, Guatemala is the location of the Manus de Jesus mission (known in the United States as Pray America). In 2008, Monte Flor began with the purchase of a 60 acre plot of land in Chichicastenengo, part of the Quiche department of the country of Guatemala. Buildings and facilities soon followed, and this year, the 10,000 square foot Community Center, which houses the Monte Flor Dental Clinic, will be completed. The Dental Clinic will occupy the upper floor of the Center and will include a waiting room, 4 operatories, a storage and sterilization area, restroom facilities along with 2 full bedrooms and a separate bathroom for the volunteer dental staff to occupy while they are here.
The Clinic will be serving the needs of the population of Chichicastenango which includes about 80 villages in the Department of Quiche, which is one of the poorest areas of Guatemala. The population of the area approximates 50-60,000 people. The people are mostly indigenous, of Mayan descent, and speak predominantly the Quiche language. About 70 % of the population live in severe poverty and about 80% of the children live with chronic malnutrition. Only 20% of the children in this area of Guatemala attend primary school. These horrific figures are a result of the 36 year old Civil War which ended in 1996.
The Clinic will be administered by the staff of Manus de Jesus as well as Dr. Steve Niergarth and his wife, Lisa, who reside in Traverse City, Michigan. Steve has been providing dental care to the people of Guatemala since 2006. After seeing the wonderful work being accomplished by Manus de Jesus and the huge need for dental care, they felt the need to help establish a permanent place where people can seek care when needed. Dr. Niergarth has found that very few of the indigenous population in Guatemala have ever received dental care and as a result, most of the dental work needed involves relief of pain, extractions, and fillings although cases of more unique problems do arise. Decay is a huge problem and the opportunity to improve dental health is great, simply by giving instruction on preventive measures such as diet and brushing.
The Dental Clinic is currently in the process of trying to equip the operatories. The plan is to utilize donations of smaller pieces of equipment, while purchasing the larger equipment in Guatemala City. Dr. Niergarth is currently working with a dental supplier in Gautemala City that specializes in refurbished equipment. Unfortunately, it is cost prohibitive to ship large items, even if donated, from the US to Guatemala. The Clinic is currently applying for a grant from the Academy of Dentistry International Foundation to help with costs of equipping the operatories, however, the results of this application will not be known until November. The hope is to raise funds to equip two of the operatories as soon as possible in an effort to get the Clinic up and running, and hopefully receive grant funds to provide the remainder.