From the #deltadentalARFoundation: This is a story about betrayal and heartaches. But also about human kindness that turned some heartaches into smiles.
For years, pregnant women and their families from the Marshallese Islands in the western Pacific were lured to Northwest Arkansas under false premises. If they placed their baby for adoption, they would be given cash, stable housing or relocation of the rest of their family or children from the islands to the US.
The women complied in good faith but received none of the promised benefits.
Shared Beginnings has made it its mission to prevent such abuse.
The adoption and birth family support agency headquartered in Fayetteville started collaborating with the US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants in 2019 to offer support services to Marshallese victims of adoption and human trafficking in the region. It provides counseling, advocacy, legal counsel and representation, connection to community resources, financial assistance—and dental care.
Dental care? That seems surprising.
It’s a much needed service.
Most Marshallese newcomers have never seen a dentist or oral health provider before. Their oral health has suffered in the aftermath of nuclear testing on the islands decades earlier, a lack of fresh produce and inadequate access to dental care.
As a result, tooth decay and gum disease are widespread, jeopardizing the well-being of the pregnant women, their unborn babies and their families. Their dental diseases are often so advanced that tooth extractions are the only option.
Still, at least they are available, thanks to a #communitygrant from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation.
Shared Beginnings has hosted several extraction clinics this year, bringing pain relief and newfound smiles to more than 300 expectant mothers and their families. The agency partners with local dentists who volunteer their services and the dental clinic at the Samaritan Community Center in Rogers for dentures.
Non-Marshallese clients who seek adoption support services have also benefitted from the extraction services.
Bravo. This story deeply moves us. How about you? Please talk to us and check out our funding opportunities here if your organization is helping new and longtime Arkansans gain healthy smiles.