UB faculty member Othman Shibly (rear left with baseball cap) and some volunteers are pictured with some of the more than 1,000 children who received dental care during Shibly's most recent trip to Lebanon last month.
Othman Shibly (rear row, center, with white shirt and baseball cap) poses with some of the volunteers who provided dental care to children in schools and refugee camps in Lebanon.
By MARCENE ROBINSON
Published November 1, 2022
More than 1,000 children at schools and Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon recently received free dental care and education through the UB Global Miles for Smiles program, a long-running mission led by director and UB faculty member Othman Shibly to deliver critical oral health care to marginalized communities in need around the world.
The humanitarian mission, which took place Oct. 6-14, provided care to children in low-income families at three schools in Lebanon, as well as children at three Syrian refugee camps in the country. The program was supported by the School of Dental Medicine, Syrian American Medical Society, Henry Schein Cares Foundation and 20 volunteers from across the United States, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
“Who gave my children privileges to have better circumstances than those children? — a question I asked myself many times when I was in Lebanon with the Global Miles for Smiles team. I am sure if they had similar opportunities as my children that they would achieve just as much or more than mine,” says Shibly, clinical professor of periodontics and endodontics. “But it happened that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it happened that the world forgot their humanity and ignored their responsibility to protect these children.
“I thanked them for giving us the opportunity to realize the humanity in our hearts when we served them, and I apologized for not doing enough for them.”
Since 2011, UB Global Miles for Smiles has provided treatment to more than 15,000 refugees and displaced people through medical missions in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Shibly notes that UB Global Miles for Smiles may be the only university-based program in the U.S. focused on sustainable care and capacity building. The program has partnered with the Syrian American Medical Society to open several dental clinics at refugee and displaced person camps in several countries, as well as hire dentists and train community health care workers to deliver year-round care.
Between May and August, community health care workers trained through the program treated more than 3,400 children at more than 15 schools in Lebanon.