The Bridging the Gap Program – Goals and Objectives
The HCS supported Bridging the Gap program, seeks to expand and reach 100 additional Arab families from East Jerusalem and other local neighborhoods who are eligible to receive free dental treatment. In addition to caring for the oral health of some of Jerusalem’s neediest children,
patients and their parents benefit from the program in ways that are even more intangible, but just as vital to their well-being – enhanced self-confidence, a feeling of empathy from the clinic staff and its donors from abroad, and a small, but significant, step towards a sense of co-existence, which is fostered when families meet in the clinic waiting room. Mothers chat about their children, and children smile shyly at each other. These small – yet meaningful – encounters help Arabs and Jews rise above some of the tension and negative perceptions that are endemic to their corner of the world.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the consequences of inadequate dental care are many, including the potential loss of self-esteem that can result from broken teeth, tooth loss, or other visible problems– even in a child’s baby teeth. It can also lead to chewing problems and pain that interferes with the ability to concentrate in school, and cause serious infections.
The situation is even worse among the Arab population. Israel’s Arab population (53.5 percent) lives below the poverty line. In Jerusalem, over 71 percent of Arab families and 83 percent of Arab children are classified as poor. Furthermore, the gap between their overall income and poverty levels is reaching record levels.