Dr. Ivan Hucal and his dental assistant Melanie Bott will head to Ethiopia next month to help fix the teeth of African youth. Contributed photo

Red Deer dental duo returning to Ethiopia to help kids

Dr. Ivan Hucal and Melanie Bott hope to create ‘ripple effect’ of kindness on expedition

A Red Deer orthodontist and his dental assistant will fly to Ethiopia next month to work on hundreds of children’s teeth.

Dr. Ivan Hucal and Melanie Bott, of Hucal and Edwards Orthodontics, are set to return to the African country for their second two-week stint with Canadian Humanitarian, a Medicine Hat-based non-profit agency that brings health and dental services to developing countries.

The two travelled to Ethiopia for their first stint in 2018.

“It was such a successful journey that we pledged to go back again,” Hucal said Tuesday.

“You saw a direct correlation between what you do and the outcome – it was so immediate and impactful, but also long lasting.

“Although it’s been two years, we’ve seen another dental team go in the year between ours and they noticed the successes created by our initial expedition.”

Before the first trip to Ethiopia, Bott said she had a 17-year dream to go on an aid mission.

“Two weeks of our lives will affect the kids in these programs for the rest of their lives,” said Bott.

“Just meeting these kids, talking to them and hearing their stories was pretty empowering.

”Knowing the big impact and ripple effect it has on these kids, their families, and even the community that they’re in, kind of drew us to want to go back and do it again.”

Olds dentist Dr. Jared Ord, his hygienist wife Lindsey Ord, central Alberta dental assistants Becky Bitz and Pam Pinard, and hygienist Kayzia West will join Hucal and Bott on the trip.

Hucal said he sponsored an Ethiopian child a few years ago and got the chance to meet her in 2018.

“I’m looking forward to seeing her again. She’s part of my family. It’s exciting to see how she’s been doing these past two years and how she’s been able to improve her education and general standard of life,” he said.

Bott said she is less nervous about the trip this year.

“I’m … definitely looking forward to going and seeing kids we saw last time,” she said.

“We definitely made some connections with kids last time, so I think it’ll be a surreal experience to see them again and even the program workers there. It’ll be exciting to see and learn the changes that have been made in the past two years.”

This year, the duo launched a campaign to purchase 50 goats to support families. That goal has been surpassed.

“The idea now is to actually start a program for long-term sustainability,” said Bott.

“We’ve see first-hand how something very little, in Canadian terms, can have a big impact in Ethiopia.”

To learn more about the campaign, search Goats for Kids on www.canadahelps.org.

Other members of this expedition have campaigns as well. Bitz is raising money for chickens and the Ords are raising money to purchase clothing for children.


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