December 13, 2011 – Wilmington, NC – This December, David Sperow, his wife, Marty, and a physician assistant/former Army Medic will forgo the usual holiday festivities with family and friends and will travel 8,800 miles to two separate regions of Thailand. Sperow, a practicing dentist for 16 years, has been making volunteer trips to underprivileged areas around the world since 1993. “When I was a second year dental student, I was asked to join a dental team on an international trip that exposed me to the tremendous need and suffering in the third world. I couldn’t get those images out of my head and knew I had to continue my volunteer efforts to help those in need,” expressed Sperow.
While in Thailand, the volunteers will perform dental work on children at the Safe Haven and Mae Ka Hta Orphanages. Safe Haven, located in Tak Province, is run by five volunteers. All five women are *Karen widows whose husbands were murdered by the Burmese army. They volunteer at the orphanage in exchange for food and lodging. Safe Haven houses 64 children. “If everything goes as well as we anticipate, we plan to build a dental clinic at Safe Haven, which will allow us to provide a full service dentistry. We anticipate that as word of our presence spreads through the neighboring villages, people will assemble outside the orphanage requesting our assistance. Sadly, we will end up having to turn some people away due to time constraints, which is why establishing a permanent solution is so important.”
From there, the three will head to the Mae Ka Hta Orphanage in Mae Hong Province, which is a home to 33 children and four local villagers who receive a small stipend for caring for the children. “In the United States, we often take our high quality healthcare for granted. A lot of these children are living with daily discomfort. Extractions are the main procedure performed in impoverished communities because they eliminate the maximum amount of pain and infection in the shortest amount of time,” explains Sperow.
“When Live Oak learned about Dave’s mission to Thailand, it wasn’t a question of whether or not we wanted to help. We just wanted to how we could support his cause,” commented Keith Merklin, Senior Loan Officer at Live Oak Bank. “The small group of volunteers is going to make an immense impact in the lives of these children. They are in desperate need of medical attention that is not available in their country. I applaud Dave and his team for all of the sacrifices they are making to help the lives of strangers across the globe.”
*The Karen (KAH-rin) people are from Karen State Burma.