By Reeder Enrique Lanzas, DDS
“My name is Reeder Enrique Lanzas. I was born in Leon, Nicaragua and at age of six moved to the capital, Jinotega. Growing up, my family was always dedicated to service. My mom is a dentist and my dad is a nurse, serving as the Surgical Program Coordinator for AVODEC to plan Esperança’s medical missions. From a young age I had always thought about studying something in the medical field. I watched how my parents helped others, so it was easy for me to want to follow in their footsteps.
As a teenager, I had the opportunity to serve as a translator for an American gynecological mission sent by Esperanca that came to help the people of Jinotega. The following month while on vacation from school, I translated for another mission, and this one decided my future. A group of surgeons came to change not only the smile, but the life, of children with cleft lips and palates. Dr. Retson was the head of this mission and a veteran surgeon with Esperança. One day, he said that it would be life-changing for his patients to have the assistance of a dentist in his cases, but here in Jinotega there was nobody who could support him. That moment is when a passion for dentistry entered my heart.
I decided to study dentistry and moved back to León to do so. I studied hard to finish my degree, but on vacations and in my free time I continued to support the Esperança / AVODEC missions, as a translator. In 2015, the last year of my program, Esperança gave me the opportunity to work hand in hand with a married couple of dentists from the United States, and it was in this mission that I first felt very useful to the people of my country. We treated approximately 70 patients; performing extractions, cleanings, and fillings to the neediest population in just 5 days of care. I graduated from dental school and for the past two and a half years and I have continued to support Esperança’s missions with great dedication, all because an American doctor told me he could use a dentist.
I have been privileged with an exceptional experience. I appreciate Esperança and all the doctors who have come to our country to help. A country with many needs, human and economic- but with a great deal of love for its people.”