Golden optometrist and dentist go to Guatemala to volunteer

Two Golden Doctors are travelling to Guatemala this week to provide their services in rural towns.

Optometrist Dr. Rebecca Kolbenson and dentist Dr. Shane Van Biezen make a remarkable team, as they travel with Edmonton-based Change For Children to Comitancillo, the largest city cetre in Guatemala, near where they will be working.

As they prepared to embark on the adventure, Kolbenson was busy collecting used glasses to bring with her.

Earlier in the week, the married couple was busy preparing for their work adventure.

This trip marks Kolbenson and Van Biezen’s second trip together working with Change For Children, but they have each been on other trips in the past.

Kolbenson has done five trips, including one she received a scholarship to do in university. Van Viesen also received a scholarship to do a dentistry trip in University, and has been on three trips, including that one.

“I think that when you have a set of skills that can be useful and help out other people, and you have the ability to go and do that, it is very worth while to everyone,” Kolbenson said.

Kolbenson and Van Biezen like the organization Change For Children because they are able to attend trips like these together, and they have enough support that they don’t have to help each other in the other’s field.

“Usually we have to travel separately, that’s why we like this organization, because we can go together,” she said.

When they travel together, they work side by side, but both focus on their own area of expertise.

“We do eye care and dental care combined, so we travel to these rural villages that don’t have access to healthcare or can’t afford to take the bus to the city,” Kolbenson explained. “We do eye exams and give them glasses if we can.”

If the lenses required aren’t already available in frames, they can get them.

The couple also works with a team of surgeons, and Kolbenson works with them to arrange cataract surgeries for free.

The trip is only 10 days long, and Kolebson and Van Biezen will travel to five different villages near Comitancillo in Guatemala. Each morning, they will take a bus to the rural towns they will visit.

Van Biezen is the newest addition to the Golden Dental Centre. He grew up in Airdrie, Alberta, and moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to obtain his undergraduate and dental degrees from the University of Saskatchewan.

Kolbenson grew up in Saskatchewan, and also attended the University of Saskatchewan, where she got her degree. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

Both Kolbenson and Van Biezen moved to Golden to create a life, and have both been involved in many fundraising projects and volunteer work like their upcoming trip to Guatemala.

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