Yvonne Frei about her mission in February 2020:
Each has their own story to tell and is enormously grateful for the treatment they have received.
I look out of the plane window of “Scrapair” on the way from the capital Bishkek to Osh and see the high peaks of the Pamir in glorious winter weather. We have now been managing the key project of Foundation Confidence for Children here in Kyrgyzstan for almost five years. It’s extraordinary how the time passes. And we ask ourselves, “Have we achieved anything? Have we accomplished anything with our missions?” As the plane touches down on the bumpy landing strip in Osh, this is something we are just as used to as the chaotic traffic on the way to the hospital. We are no longer surprised by the plaster falling off the old Russian prefabricated building or the underground passages like catacombs linking the different wings of the
hospital. All of this is normal. The waiting room is as it always is and crammed full of people. Patients here always turn up with half their families who will then look after them during inpatient treatment. Madina, a young woman, one of the very first patients, greets us overjoyed with a beautiful smile. We know so many of the waiting patients. Each has their own story to tell and is enormously grateful for the treatment they have received.
We enter the treatment room. The two old grey Swiss dentist’s chairs are a familiar sight. As ever, Danjiar, Nursultan and Asamat hug us affectionately as if we were members of their family. Saikal and
Aidana greet us as old friends. We get changed and start working just as we have done for the last five years. One patient after the other is called up and introduced to Marcel, the orthodontist. We discuss what has happened since the last check and if there is anything to be improved. Finally we decide and note down what the next steps in the reatment are to be. Saikal, the speech therapist, checks her patients and discusses some of them at an interdisciplinary level with Marcel. Aidana, the young assistant, rotates between the two treatment chairs in order to meet the requirements of the dentists. I provide support where help is needed. This is a special mission as we now declare the development phase of the project to be complete. What now follows is the displacement phase during which we intend gradually to hand over the baton in small stages to the Kyrgyzes.
Tired, we stare out of the same window made of scrap plane as two weeks ago. Our mission is over. We have both seen and discussed a large number of patients and as always worked long hours every day. Marcel has drawn up and recorded many strategies with the dentists. We have shown, documented and ourselves learned a great deal. I have visited some kindergartens and an orphanage and provided prophylaxis training and above all he have gained many encounters and friends. Asked whether we have achieved anything, I can now answer with a clear yes. We have succeeded in passing on our knowledge. We can see how the Kyrgyz doctors are applying it. Not always perfectly, not always to our Swiss standards, but to the best of their knowledge and belief. Over the next few years they can count on us and our expertise. They will then at some point reach a stage when they are able to assist the children born in Kyrgyzstan with cleft lips independently to lead a self-determined and dignified life. assist the children born in Kyrgyzstan with cleft lips independently to lead a self-determined and dignified life.