After performing a 10-day Oral Health Assessment for HIV-positive children ages 4 to 16 in 2004, Dr. Ayele Ajavon-Cox realized the urgent need for dental care in all sectors of Liberia. Since the close of civil war in 2003, the Liberian government had done little to secure funding for oral health prevention and emergency programs.
Dr. Ajavon-Cox is a member of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Reston, VA. Dr. Ajavon-Cox working with St. Anne’s, created Smiles for Liberia (SML.) SML is a team of caring volunteers who go into low-income areas surrounding Monrovia to educate and provide preventative dental care to school children. SML is the first program of its kind in Liberia and has the potential to educate thousands, train new dental professionals, and empower children to take oral health seriously. St. Anne's held a major fundraiser and auction to support Dr. Ajavon-Cox's vision. She has worked with other churches on raising visibility for this important mission.
So far this year SML has provided dental care for over 500 children in Monrovia and beyond. St. Anne's continues to follow her work closely and provides support for staffing and supplies.