“Finally, there is no more pain,” said Phally Prakk, a monk at Buxton’s Wat Samaki Buddhist temple, after the 25 February extraction of an aching molar at the University of New England’s Oral Health Center. “I’ve had this going on for years, and this was really needed.”
The monks and other Cambodians settled in and around Portland are primarily refugees who fled their war-torn home in the 1970s. In 1984, some 800 Cambodians formed together to create the non-profit organization called Watt Samaki, or “Unity Temple.” At the time they had no building, but soon found a property in Portland to call home.
Dr. Jon Ryder, dean of the college, said that providing the monks with oral health services fell in line with the mission of improving the health of people and communities, particularly in rural areas. “Our mission is to improve the health of Northern New England, as well as rural and underserved areas, while shaping the future of dentistry through excellence in education, discovery, and service,” Ryder said. “It makes sense to us that we prioritize new Mainers as part of that.”