Our story starts in Brazil. A group of four of my friends at university knew about a project for dental help in Brazil and decided to participate. Shortly before their departure, they invited me to come with them. So I joined them, but unfortunately I couldn´t participate the whole time. Therefore, we made a plan to repeat the experience once again. Our plan was to go back to Brazil in January 1999, but for various reasons my friends had to cancel the trip shortly before leaving.
So I went alone. When I arrived, the small dental office where I was supposed to work for the project was not ready yet, and there was also no accommodation for me. I had to act immediately and with the help of the director of the place where we worked in 1999, I found a new place where I could work. I also got accommodation there. It was the Santo Antônio convent in Igarassu, about 40km from Recife, the capital of Pernambuco.
Because of all this organization, my basic Portuguese got better. In the Santo Antônio convent the sisters and the educational employees had been looking after the children from the poor quarters of the town nearby. Since I came there as their first dentist, there was a lot of work to do. Most of the children never had been to a dentist before.
Initially Mônica Ferreira, at that time working educationally with the children, helped me during the treatments. After three weeks work, a friend from university came, so that we could do the treatments together. At that time, there was also a group from Lisbon, restoring the church of the convent. As such, I found my first Portuguese friends and most of those friendships still exist today.
In the convent I heard a lot about the bad living conditions of the children and so sister Plácida, the director, Mônica Ferreira from the educational part, and I, made a plan to find godfathers for these children. When I returned to Germany, I could join the godfatherhoods to the project “Zahnärztliches Hilfsprojekt Brasilien e.V”. With the administrative work – writing, translating and telephoning – my Portuguese got even better.
One year after my return to Germany, and still influenced by the intensive experience, I saw two classified ads in the dental journal, looking for an employed dentist in the Algarve. Because I already had friends in Portugal and could speak a bit of Portuguese, I came to Portugal for the interviews and more information.
However, in the end, I didn´t have the courage to move to the Algarve, and I moved to another town and job in Germany. In 2002 I planned to open my own dental office, but I didn´t find a clinic to take over which suited to me. At exactly that time I got the offer to take over the Clínica de Medicina Dentária Estrada do Farol, Lda. in Carvoeiro, which was founded in 1996 by my predecessor Dr. Hans Ulrich Markert. After a short visit, the decision was made to take over this clinic.
The next step was to move to Portugal. Today both of my sons live in Germany again, but come here in almost all school holidays and enjoy and love the Algarve. In 2013 I had the opportunity to join the dental help project in Igarassu once again.
As Mônica Ferreira in Igarassu, and I in Portugal, did the administration of the godfatherhoods, all the years we stayed friends in good contact. After my stay in Igarassu in 2013 we discovered our love and so we have lived here in Portugal together since 2014, and Mônica works in the clinic as dental nurse. We married in May 2019.
Dr. Axel Hüttemann-Geiger