Hilda is the aunt of one of the students in Esperanza School. During our dental clinic last October - November she shared with Dr. Claudia that she has suffered various illnesses since she was 15 years old. Now in her forties she is caring for her niece, Karen, whose mother died when she was five years old. Karen is now 11.
As she dealt with sickness for so long, Hilda wasn't able to go to the dentist, resulting in the loss of her teeth at a very young age. She had dentures at one time, but they had long worn out. Her niece asked her not to smile because her missing teeth were embarrassing. Hilda’s heart was broken over Karen’s attitude. She was living with this sense of shame.
"I feel ashamed because I can't smile like everybody else does. I have to hide my teeth even when I am talking and I live with this deep sadness." - Hilda.
With no upper teeth and no molars on the bottom she always covered her teeth with her lips and talked often with her hand up at her mouth.
While the dental clinic was primarily for the children, Hilda was one of two parents who were treated. She had a few teeth extracted and a few fillings and then new dentures were made for her.
When Claudia put her new dentures in and asked her to smile she couldn’t remember how to shape her lips. She had forgotten how to smile.
She had forgotten how to speak properly and could no longer pronounce some letters. Claudia and Hilda worked together for a while and she began to feel more confident. When she stood up her whole posture was different. Hilda stood tall, shame falling away.
"I feel happy and confident now that I can smile and have the freedom to show my teeth. I used to feel ashamed, but not anymore. Thank you for fixing my teeth." - Hilda.
The impact of the investment of time, friendship, and a few dollars has given Hilda a blessing as she continues to care for her niece and learn how to endure and overcome the abuse of this emotionally-hurting young girl.
A big and beautiful smile, a smile hidden for many years, has now been restored through Christ’s love and His disciples who serve at Esperanza de Ana. Hilda has had her dream come true.