Giving back to our local and global community is something we are passionate about here at Chapel Hill Advanced Dentistry.
We are committed to a high level of social responsibility and regularly sponsor and participate in a variety of local and national events such as the Raleigh Rescue Mission, Operation Gratitude, and the Chapel Hill’s Service League’s Annual Southern Village 5K.
For Chapel Hill Advanced Dentistry, the big picture is important. That’s why Dr. Saib and his team take the initiative to sponsor a child through the Live it Up Foundation. The Live it Up Foundation rescues abandoned or orphaned children and provides them with a safe home in which to live, grow and thrive. Sponsors help these children gain access to basic education, shelter, food, clothing, medical attention, skill training, and bring other necessities to children in desperate situations. For more information visit: www.liveitupfoundation.org
Dr. Saib travels twice a year on mission trips that take him to the West Bank through the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF). Dr. Saib and a team of plastic surgeons, dentists, oral surgeons, and other specialists treat children and train professionals there in an effort to improve the quality of oral health care. Dr. Saib has been on medical missions to treat cleft lip and palates, and to treat special needs children. PCRF is a non-political, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting the medical and humanitarian crisis facing children in the Middle East. For more information visit: www.pcrf.net.
Why did you get involved with The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund?
I was attending a meeting when the Keynote speaker, who is a Plastic surgeon, mentioned about his cleft lip/palate mission trips with PCRF. After the meeting, I mentioned that cleft lip and palate is more than just lips and palates and typically, an entire team of specialists, including dentists, are involved. He commented that he had been unable to find dentists to travel with him. So I volunteered.
I’ve been on 19 missions so far, and this summer will be my 20th. I go because I feel obligated to. I am of a Turkish heritage, but I was born in the middle east allowing to speak both languages but being politically affiliated with neither but was trained in the US. This puts me in a unique situation politically, religiously, linguistically, and educationally to be able to help with little issues from the Israeli and the Palestinian governments. I have been given a gift, and I am simply sharing it.
How do you feel you connect with the mission, and/or the vision of The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund?
I am not a “Joiner” of organizations by nature. Most organizations have a second agenda of some kind. PCRF is different; its an American grass-roots organization, founded and managed by an American (Steve Sosebee) of Kent, OH. The organization is non-political and non-religious. PCRF does not accept funding from any governments. Meaning, it is 100% privately funded and has no agendas other than helping children. PCRF has also been in the the highest rating possible by Charity Navigator for 7 years making it in the top 95% of transparent and efficient organizations in the world today. Yet the entire organization has less than 50 people managing it. A truly remarkable entity.
What inspired you to become a donor with The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund?
In the beginning, I was simply a volunteer doctor. Meaning, it would cost PCRF to send me to the West Bank. At some point as I went on many missions and saw first hand what PCRF was doing to help the children, I decided that my donation of time and services alone were not enough, and I decided to be a financial donor also. Now I am a financial donor, a provider, an on-location teacher of other local doctors, and even a local (Here in North Carolina) chapter member. I simply did not want to be a financial burden to the organization.
Do you have a particular sentiment you live by in regards to helping others?
I think all doctors at some level want to help others. Even those who are financially motivated have a desire to help others. When you take money and compensation out of the equation, things get much more simple. Since I have no agendas other than wanting to do what is best for the children, I can become a bit more assertive in pushing what is truly necessary.
Did you have to overcome any conflicts or obstacles with your team while on your mission trip? How did you overcome them?
There are so many variables in each mission: location, anesthesiologists, assisting doctors, local doctors, political climate, material availability, even sleeping accommodations. All of these play a role in either helping or creating obstacles in delivering care. Meaning, every mission is like an adventure. We just do the best we can under the circumstances. Luckily, we have not been in a situation where we had to cancel the mission last minute. Once instance did come close though when I was scheduled to go to Gaza and two weeks before, the last war broke out. The mission was diverted to the West Bank.
As a busy dentist, how do you find the time and resources to give so much to others and why is it important to you?
I make the time. Meaning, I take less vacation, I watch less TV, and I apologize a lot to my kids.
Like I said earlier, I’ve been given a gift and I simply share it with others who have no means. I would like to think that anyone else in my identical situation would do the same.
Are you involved in any other Philanthropy work? Is this something you will continue to do in the future?
I have provided some service locally, also through missions of mercy, and even provide some free services to some patients. For example, I have one family from New Orleans who are Katrina survivors, and I have been providing for them since. I also have one patient who is HIV Positive but has turned his life around to complete health. These two are just a few of the many I provide free services for.
However, one has to pick their battles and since my situation in the West Bank is so unique, I choose to put most of my efforts there.
Do you feel the work you did in the Middle East was a success? Did you achieve the outcome you hoped for?
The work I do there is on-going. The more appropriate question I think is: “Am I making a difference?” and to that I would say a definite “YES.” Through PCRF, we are not just helping the children, we are helping to change the culture of healthcare in the West Bank and Gaza. Since many of our patients need multidisciplinary care, we are connecting doctors with dentists with speech therapists and autism specialists, etc. The medical culture there has changed from a fragmented, competitive, and polarized system to more collaborative one. That is where the magic is happening. That is by far the most rewarding thing I see and feel.