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Dr. Mac and Becky Help Children In Haiti

By on May 18, 2016


This article appeared in the Daily News Record in Harrisonburg, Va on May 14, 2016    "Valley Couple Helps Kids In Haiti"                                                                  

As Joe and Becky McIntyre scrambled to book a flight to Florida ahead of a January snowstorm, they had no idea they'd end up sitting next to a man that would change their lives.

Joe McIntyre, a Bridgewater dentist, along with his wife, Becky, a dental hygienist, sat next to a Haymarket man. He was headed to an orphanage he started in Haiti. By chance, he had been searching for a dentist to volunteer for a long time. "It felt like God had hit us upside the head with a two-by-four and said, 'Pay attention. This is what you need to do,'" said Becky McIntyre, who attends The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Harrisonburg with her husband.

 Dr. McIntyre working on a young boy from the orphanage while Steven McIntyre assists and Melissa Allen comforts the child.


Serendipity  The McIntyres were scheduled to fly out of Dulles International Airport at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, to attend a dental conference in Miami. The only problem was that the D.C. area was projected to get slammed with 2 feet of snow that day.Becky McIntyre called the airline on the Tuesday prior, asking to change their flight. The airline said they couldn't do it without charging them a fee because a weather alert had not been issued. The following night, Becky McIntyre saw news reports of flights being canceled. She called the airline again. The only option was a 6 a.m. flight that had five seats  available. Only two were together, but the seats were on an exit row. She chose the exit row, but then opted to sit separate from her husband. "Then the feeling hit me, 'You should sit together,'" she thought. "So I moved us back to the exit row." After packing all night, the couple left for the airport at 2:30 a.m. As they settled into their seats, the couple introduced themselves to the man next to them. The man, Bill Harvey, said he was headed to Haiti. Harvey spent the next two hours telling the McIntyres about the orphanage, Kay Anj Village, he and his wife, Debbie, run through their nonprofit, Helping Haitian Angels.

                                                                                             

"We were struck by the respect, love and caring he had for the Haitian people, and especially their kids," Becky McIntyre said. During the conversation, not knowing Joe McIntyre was a dentist, Harvey mentioned he wanted to set up a medical and dental clinic in the village. He told them he had no problem finding doctors to volunteer but struggled to find even one dentist willing to make the trip. "My husband and I looked at each other and said, 'Do you know who you are sitting next to?'" Becky McIntyre said. When he found out they worked in the dental field, he invited them to visit the orphanage. When the McIntyres returned to the Shenandoah Valley, they called Debbie Harvey to make the arrangements. "We prayed and prayed and prayed for dentists," said Debbie Harvey. "It was an answer to prayer."

History Of Helping Volunteering was nothing new for the McIntyres.       In the past, the couple participated in Missions of Mercy, which provides free dentistry to underserved areas of Virginia. According to the Virginia Health Care Foundation, about 3.8 million Virginians don't have dental insurance. The couple provided services to Wise County residents. "We did dentistry under a big circus tent," said Becky McIntyre. They also participate in Dentistry from the Heart, which helps local residents without insurance. The office also sees four patients per month through local free clinics. "We really believe when you're given much, you should give much," said Becky McIntyre. "It's our way of showing our love for Jesus."

One of the precious kids having fun wearing a “glove hat”



 

Headed To Haiti In April, the McIntyres added Helping Haitian Angels to their list of charity work. Along with 11 fellow volunteers, they headed to Haiti for a five-day trip to assess the children. The first thing Joe McIntyre noticed at the orphanage was the children's reactions. "The children were anxious to meet us," he said, adding that most of the children only spoke Creole but could judge a person on their facial expressions. "They would seek to hold your hand. It was almost like they needed their love cup filled up." After the roughly 55 children warmed up to the visitors, the McIntyres began to evaluate and work on the their teeth.    Debbie Harvey said the McIntyres went above and beyond what they expected. "We thought it was going to be a fact-finding trip," she said. "They did major dental work for eight hours a day, for two days straight. That was the true answer to prayer."

While in Haiti, they did face some challenges. "There wasn't any dental equipment down there, so we took a 60-year-old dental cart and rigged it up to kind of work and used a lawn chair from a flea market to lay our patient back," Becky McIntyre said. Many of the children had baby and permanent teeth that had cavities that started off small but got larger over time — many had to be pulled. Joe McIntyre said those could have been prevented.

Mary McDonnell takes notes while Becky McIntyre RDH does a dental exam.

"It's kind of sad," he said, adding that he hopes their trip will be the beginning of a long-term project. "It's an opportunity to make a difference."

He also noticed that many had large infections that likely created pain most Americans wouldn't tolerate. "They just had to endure it," he said. "They didn't complain." Making A Change The McIntyres want to curb that pain in the future by helping establish a clinic to help the orphanage and a neighboring village, Dubout. Once the clinic is in place, they hope to have a rotation of dentists visit the clinic and treat patients. "Ideally, many more dentists will be willing to come once there is equipment there to actually be able to perform dentistry that saves teeth, rather than just extractions," Becky McIntyre said. The couple hopes to raise $30,000. Donations can be made at helpinghaitianangels.org. "I know we live in a caring and generous community, and this is a way to help the children and adults of the Kay Anj Village and surrounding communities," she said, adding they plan to return in October.

Laketa McSellers teaching a child about good oral home care.

Debbie Harvey said a dental clinic that can reduce and help take care of infections will be a huge blessing for the orphanage. "I consider it life-saving," she said.   

Donations can be made at the Helping Haitian Angels website: http://www.helpinghaitianangels.org/

 

 

 

 

 

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