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Part of why I love living in Chiang Mai is the fascinating people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. There’s something about this place that attracts people that are living by their own rules, working on their own projects and truly going after their passions. Many of them also happen to be doing a lot of good for others.
Including my friend, Beccah, co-founder of Yogamour.
Yogamour’s mission is to foster health and wellness in underserved communities through local and global outreach, while encouraging yogis to take their yoga off of the mat and into the world through the form of ‘seva’ or selfless service.
The non-profit organization runs a number of programs in the United States and around the world including ‘voluntour’ retreats where participants have the chance to join yoga retreats that also incorporate a volunteer opportunity in the place they’re visiting (like in Thailand this upcoming December!), along with health education and clinics for impoverished communities in India and Thailand.
I recently got to tag along to one of the organization’s free dental clinics outside of Chiang Mai.
Yogamour has been working closely with a primary school in the village of Mae Taeng. Over the past several years, they have created an organic garden on the school grounds to help provide fresh produce for school lunches (which just consisted of watery soup before), run numerous health workshops focusing on healthy eating, vision and dental care, and provided comprehensive vision and dental care for all of the students plus other members of the community, completely free.
During the four-day clinic, a husband and wife, oral surgeon and dental hygienist team came from the U.S. to not only volunteer their time and expertise checking and cleaning the kids’ teeth, but also brought over all the necessary supply and equipment needed. Talk about selfless service.
Yogamour has been running the clinic for the past several years so all the children have been receiving yearly cleanings and the older kids have been getting sealant put on as well to help stop future tooth decay. At first, the students were a little wary about the whole process – most had never been to the dentist, didn’t practice good oral hygiene at home and, of course, didn’t like it if they had to get a tooth pulled. By the end of the first ever clinic however, kids were proactively going up to the dentist and asking him to check or pull other teeth that hurt. Now they’re pros.
You probably noticed that the “clinic” wasn’t like what you would see in the U.S. or Europe. Set up at the school, folding beach chairs were used instead of real dentist’s chairs and high powered electric tooth brushes had to be used instead of real, professional cleaning equipment.
Of course, while it’s a wonderful experience to participate and support Yogamour’s retreats, monetary donations are also always needed, especially to keep these health clinics and care operating. Just $25 USD can provide complete eye care, including prescription glasses, for a child for one year and the same goes for dental care.
It’s crazy what a little bit of money and a lot love can do.