WESTMINSTER — Marjorie Woodward's garage was a beehive of activity Sunday as a dozen men and women swarmed around suitcases and boxes filled with medical supplies.
The group, mostly dentists and their assistants, was packing for its eight-day trip beginning Friday to Ecuador to providedental care to the farming community of Riobamba.
"Riobamba is four hours south of Quito (the capital) by land, in the Andes Mountains, 9,500 feet above sea level," said Westminster orthodontist Dr. Robert T. Scott. "It's a poor, farming area. Some of these people have never seen a dentist."
Last year, Scott was part of a group of dentists who went to Costa Rica, where they provided free dental care for people in a similar situation.
Dubbed Ecuadent 1992, this expanded trip includes many of the same dentists, along with pediatric, pathology and oral surgery specialists.
Tammy Fesche, a native of Ecuador and member of the Rotary World Service Committee, helped organize the trip through the military government. Woodward, as coordinating assistant, took care of travel plans.
"Col. Jorge E. Burbano, the military attache in Washington, was my first contact," Fesche said. "He put me in touch with Gen. Jose Gallaroo Roman, commander in chief of the Ecuadorean Army, who told me (they) would dowhatever it takes to make this possible."
The 17 participants, mostly from Carroll County, will pay their own air fare and expenses. Upon arrival in Quito, the military will transport the group to Riobamba and house them on the Army base there.
"We will work from the Army base and the patients will come to us," Fesche said. "The Army may be transporting some people from the outlying areas for us."
Thedentists, along with members of the co-sponsoring Westminster RotaryClub and Westminster United Methodist Church, have been seeking donations for the trip.
"The dentists contacted their suppliers for donations, and they were fairly generous," said Dr. Paul Burkett, a Mount Airy dentist. "We've contacted civic groups and churches, who havegiven money, and we've given some of our own."
While the trip is primarily to offer dental care to those in need, some had other reasons.
"I like to travel and have wanted to do some missionary type work, but I have children, so this was an opportunity to do something in dentistry and get to see the country," said Dr. Unsil Keiser, a Westminster dentist.
In addition to immediate dental care ranging from basic cleaning to root canals, Dr. David Hasson, a Finksburg pedodontist, expects to leave information to help the Ecuadoreans take better care of their teeth.
For Dr. Charles Deigert, a Manchester dentist, the trip means closing his office for a week. His wife and dental assistant, Debbie, also is going.
The group includes two University of Maryland professors who also have borrowed equipment from theSchool of Dentistry.
Sunday's meeting was a test in condensed packing. Bulging suitcases were jammed with medical supplies, forcibly shut, locked and marked.
"We're going by commercial plane and are allowed 140 pounds each, so we're taking only a few personal things, then the rest supplies," Fesche said.