Michael Haffner, 21, and a junior at Wabash College in Fort Wayne, Indiana, studies biology, chemistry and religion with the hopes of attending dental school one day.
A summer mission trip to Banos Ecuador led Haffner on his current quest: To use crowdfunding to raise awareness and $10,000 to provide the people of that area with modest, readily available and inexpensive medical supplies and equipment. The Project Ecuadent campaign started November 24 and will close January 8, 2015.
“When I was there, not being able to hand out toothbrushes to kids because they didn’t have them at home and weren’t able to purchase them, was saddening,” said Haffner, as to what prompted him to begin the dental supply collection.
“It was interesting to see the patients. They were really grateful, even if it was something minor. They’d come up and give you hugs,” he added.
Inspired to get started, Haffner created a Twitter account @ to promote the cause. After just two days, on November 26, it had 100 or so followers, he said, and his fundraising site (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/project-ecuadent) had garnered 8 or 9 donations, totaling more than $700.
On his summer mission trip, his group included three undergrad students and a Physicians Assistant.
“In the cities there were a lot of resources, but 10 minutes out of the way, children had never been to the doctor, didn’t have toothbrushes. It was really sad,” he said.
According to his website, Haffner is working with a team of charitable manufacturers and distributors of dental and medical supplies, and Medical Ministries International (the sponsoring organization for the dental and medical clinic in Banos, Ecuador), to assemble a critical care pack of medical and dental supplies to be shipped from the MMI warehouse in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania, to Ecuador.
Multiple medical and dental companies have offered to donate supplies and the money raised will help pay for even more supplies to be purchased. If the $10,000 goal is not reached, all money raised will be used to buy supplies for the Banos clinic, according to Haffner.
For details and to donate, visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/project-ecuadent