After 34 years of repairing teeth, no one would have blamed Stillwater, MN dentist Fred Kalinoff for taking a year off to rest, reflect, or just plain golf.
But the drill, probe and forceps are still in his hands — the only changes being his floppy orange fishing hat, and a different stream of clients…ones that could never pay him.
“It took me 10 minutes to get used to retirement, and after six months, I was having such a good time, I realized I should have retired a long time ago,” he said by phone, fresh off a plane from Guatemala.
Since retiring — or shall we say re-firing — in 2003, Kalinoff has made more than 50 service trips to Mexico and Guatemala, filling cavities and treating infections for the poorest of the poor, including the indigenous people from the Copper Canyon that we introduced in Mariano’s story earlier tonight.
Dr. Kalinoff first learned of the Tarahumara Indians in 2001 while backpacking in the Copper Canyon, that cavernous part of the “Mexican Rockies” extending southeast from Arizona where he and his wife Tricia have a second home.
Sadly, because of their remote location, “The Tarahumara don’t always get the medical help they need,” he says, and their plight was compounded last year by 300 consecutive days of drought that run through our winter and spring seasons.
During this time, the federal government and Red Cross try to address the starvation with rescue trucks filled with corn and beans, but health and education services are poor. Then, mother nature plays a trick and dumps torrential summer rains. Read the full story »