Lions Club member Ray Tatro, left, surprised Dr. Nekky Jamal, a dentist from Wayside Dental Centre, with a Citizen of the Year award at a club meeting on Monday night. The award recognizes Jamal’s numerous charity dental brigades to Central and South America and his local volunteerism as well. See Page 5 for more. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO
Dr. Nekky Jamal broke into a 21-kilowatt dental smile when the Lions Club of Lloydminster surprised him as the recipient of their Citizen of the Year award.
The award almost left Jamal, who is a dentist at Wayside Dental Centre, speechless too.
He thought he was invited to the Lions Club dinner at the Econo Lodge on Monday night to make a presentation on his volunteer dental brigades, mostly to Guatemala.
“It’s an incredible honour; I never thought it would ever turn into this—I don’t know what to say,” he stammered moments after Lions Club member Ray Tatro presented him with a plaque.
“It’s incredible to be part of this community and to be recognized like this; I don’t know what to say.”
Jamal’s charity volunteerism made him a no-brainer for the award according to Vic Juba on the Lions’ selection committee.
“In this case, it’s even doubly more important because he’s giving up his working time to go and do this volunteerism,” said Juba.
“In my books, he’s sacrificing his time and money to do this.”
Jamal spoke to Lions about his recent and 12th volunteer mixed dental and medical brigade trip to Guatemala organized in partnership with Change for Children in Edmonton.
In five clinic days in Central America, his team including four of his Wayside employees treated a record 715 people.
In a couple of weeks, he is heading to Nicaragua to continue drilling water wells through his Quench project.
“We’re going to go and check on the water wells and find new communities where we can keep the project going,” said Jamal.
“We’re going with Change for Children and help provide water to people that currently live without it.”
He explained what motivates him with Quench is knowing there is disparity in life and that he is fortunate to be born in Canada where we take clean water for granted.
“And when you go to a different part of the world, they don’t have that opportunity,” he said.
“They suffer from so many health problems and lack of basic human resources; it’s sad and we need to do everything we can to fix that.”
Jamal has been a dentist in Lloydminster since 2009 when he joined his first charity dental brigade to Guatemala that motivated him to continue to help ease the suffering of others.
He choked back tears during his talk about how optometrists on the medical brigade to Guatemala were able to dispense more than 1,000 pairs of eyeglasses collected from Lloydminster residents.
“As a dentist to say ‘hey I pulled a tooth, I get a kid out of pain—to me, I’ve done that; it doesn’t ring a bell to me any more, but the most important part for me to see was when you give someone vision,” he said.
“Imagine not being able to see and then all of a sudden you can see the blackboard or you can see your family or you can just see ... to me that was absolutely amazing.”
Jamal noted that none of his charity dental brigades to date have been possible without the fundraising and moral support of his office manager, Patricia Brockhoff.
In accepting the Citizen of the Year award, he noted “I feel like I should share this with Patricia because it’s all hers too.”
He went on to reveal that all of his work and his entire charitable part of his life to date has not been possible without Brockhoff’s help.
“Patricia has been my strongest supporter, my best friend, and I just can’t thank her enough; she’s my rock and I love her, she’s amazing and her name should be on there with mine,” he said with the plaque in hand.
Jamal’s history of volunteerism includes his membership with the Border City Rotary and coaching various local basketball teams, most recently the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School team.
He also enjoys competing in charity runs and riding motorcycles with his dad when he is in India.
Jamal was born and raised in Calgary and in 1994 his family moved to Nairobi Kenya where he attended elementary school before moving back to Calgary.
He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a doctorate in dental medicine.