Sonya Van Hove Provided Medical Care to Those in Need

free dental care23 year-old Sonya Van Hove retuned home in August 2011 from spending a month in Sierra Leone where she provided dental care to those in need. Describing her trip as a shocking experience, especially when compared to the system of care we receive in the West, Van Hove began to appreciate more than ever how the system is structured in places as small as the White Rock dental clinic she works at.

Working mostly on a ship called the African Mercy, part of Mercy Ships, she and 400 other volunteers from 40 different countries set out on a mission to give hope to the medically unfortunate and bring relief to the pained. Mercy Ships itself is an international Christian charity operating hopsital ships in developing nations.

Van Hove explains the social consequences of having a visible physical abnormality in some African villages. Some people are cast out from their families or villages until their unfortunate dilemma is resolved and they can reenter and reintegrate back into society. Also, the overwhelming problem of the sheer amount of patients seeking medical treatment was also described as quite the challenge, depending on how many volunteers would be present on any given day. Anyone with serious medical conditions that required immediate attention were treated first and some suffered through immense pain in the process but nonetheless never refused a recommended procedure. The entire experience and one before it in Uganda in 2009 certainly had an impact on Van Hove’s life values and self-determination.

Stepping out of one’s comfort zone and participating in an important aid program such as Mercy Ships is something anyone with a warm heart and a desire to help is encouraged to do. Sonya Van Hove is now a respected and welcomed visitor to Sierra Leone and other similar locations because of her tenacity shown through breaking the sometimes menial nature of life in Canada to truly make a difference elsewhere.

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