I’m starting a new holiday tradition this year. Instead of giving me gifts, I’d like to invite you to donate to support two of my favorite charities. You can either donate directly or send money via paypal and I’ll make sure the money gets there. For more information on how to donate, send me a message via my contact form.
Sonrisas Colectivas (Shared Smiles)
Sonrisas Colectivas is a social program started by Felipe Rodriguez and Alejandro Matamala, the founders of Deenty, a company that we helped fund with Magma Partners. Sonrisas Colectivas is simple:
1. Someone who can’t afford dental treatment applies
2. A Deenty dentist does a diagnostic exam and quotes a list price
3. The same dentist discounts the treatment, usually between 40% and 70%
4. The patient puts up whatever money they can afford
5. The patient’s family and friends raise money to help cover the treatment
6. Donors cover the remaining cost of the treatment
Please read more below or donate here.
Meet Elcira, a 54 year old woman from La Pintana, one of Chile’s poorest neighborhoods. She’s one of the 14.5m Chileans who haven’t been to the dentist in at least five years. Elcira started to have dental problems over 10 years ago, but couldn’t afford treatment, so she opted for the cheapest solution: extraction.
Dental problems are a huge deal. Many people are ashamed of their teeth and stop smiling, cover their mouth’s when they speak and start to retreat into their shells. Studies say that one of the best things you can do to improve earnings potential is to fix your teeth.
And even worse, poor dental health makes it hard or nearly impossible to eat certain foods. Barbecues, asados in spanish, are an extremely important part of Chilean culture. Birthday? Asado. Graduation? Asado. You got a new job? Asado. You’re bored on a Sunday? Asado.
Chile’s national pastime is getting together, grilling large chunks of meat and enjoying time with family and friends. The asado culture culminates during Fiestas Patrias, Chile’s national celebration. And people with dental problems like Elcira cannot share in the asado like they want: Elcira’s biggest wish when she started to participate in Sonrisas Colectivas was that she could enjoy meat at her family asado. Other patients longed to eat their favorite ice cream flavor, but couldn’t because of raw nerves.
Sonrisas colectivas invites people who cannot afford dental work to get a free diagnostic from a dentist who then agrees to lower his price to cost, usually a 40-70% discount. Then the fun starts. The patient pledges what they can, then asks their family and friends to donate to help out. In Elcira’s case, her coworkers organized a bingo night to raise money and were able to fund 25% of the treatment cost. Then its up to people like us to help cover the rest of the cost, which thankfully happened last week.
85% of Chileans haven’t been to the dentist in five years and Chileans buy less than one toothbrush per capita per year. If you account for the people who buy a new toothbrush every three months, the numbers show that there’s a significant number of Chileans who never use a toothbrush. At the same time, more dentists have graduated from Chilean dental schools in the past five years than in the entire history of the country combined and dentists have an average of 60% of their bookable time without patients. It’s estimated that Chile has enough dentists to treat 40m people, but only about 3m go to the dentist yearly.
Deenty estimates that about 30% of Chileans truly can’t afford to go to the dentist, while the other 55% either don’t understand the importance of the dentist, lack dental education or would rather dedicate their resources to other places.
Sonrisas colectivas helps the 30% of Chileans who truly can’t afford to go to the dentist get the treatment they need so they can smile again.
You can check out the stories on Sonrisas Colectivas and donate directly via paypal or Chilean credit card or bank transfer. Or you can donate directly to me and I will transfer the money onto Deenty. Help Marisol, Jorge, Sara, Carmen, Elicier and others smile again!
Libro Amigo is a social program founded by Sandra Velasco and Camila Carreño that creates small libraries in public hospitals to foment reading among patients, visitors and staff. You can donate used Spanish language books directly to the Libro Amigo team or via paypal to me and I’ll buy used books to donate.
Books in Chile are crazily expensive. A hardcover generally costs ~$45-$60 and a softcover as much as $30. Used books aren’t much cheaper. In a country where 85% of families earn $1500 per month or less and 50% earn less than $550, spending $50 on a book just isn’t in the cards. Partly because books are so expensive and partly because of low quality public education, Chileans don’t have a culture of reading. Public hospitals generally serve families in the bottom 85% on earners and most patients, visitors and staff don’t have access to books on a regular basis. And many children who come from tough backgrounds don’t have parents who are able to read to them on a regular basis.
Libro Amigo helps bridge the gap by offering books at no cost to adults in the hospital to help them take their minds off of the reasons they are in a hospital. The Libro Amigo team also reads children’s books to the kids who are either visiting or are patients in the hospital. As you can see here, the kids love it.
You can donate Spanish language books directly to the Libro Amigo team or donate money via paypal to me and I’ll purchase used books to donate to Libro Amigo.
Libro Amigo, proyecto que fomenta la lectura en hospitales, estamos haciendo una campaña navideña de recolección de libros. Nuestros lectores son los pacientes, las visitas y los funcionarios del Hospital Félix Bulnes de Providencia a quienes les prestamos libros completamente gratis. Si tienen libros por ahí que ya leyeron y están empolvándose en algún rincón los invito a donarlos a nuestra iniciativa, que comenzó a funcionar hace 3 meses.
Si pueden donar, recibimos libros para niños, jóvenes y adultos directamente en el hospital o en la Casa Central UC (donde trabaja Camila). Si tienen problemas para llevarlos, manda un mail a las fundadoras para ver si pueden ir a buscarlos. Nuestra comunidad de lectores, que crece día a día, y el equipo detrás de Libro Amigo se los agradeceremos enormemente.