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Transforming The Experience of Dentistry Since 2000

A Broken Heart and a Dream

A Broken Heart and a Dream

Happy Sunday!

It’s a beautiful day in San Diego! The sun is shining, perfect temperature, clear blue sky, gentle breeze, it’s almost hard to believe we actually live here.

Today, as I was running up a hill for my morning exercise, enjoying this gorgeous day, which felt like heaven on earth, something in my heart just broke and brought me to tears. The United States is the most amazing country! All of us who have come here from another place, truly feel blessed and deeply grateful for the freedom and opportunity that is available. Being the wife of a Navy officer, I KNOW freedom is not free and it comes at a great sacrifice.

What brought me to tears is the fact that San Diego county is one of the highest counties within the US for human trafficking. According to FBI statistics, there are 3500-8000 women per year who are trafficked right here in San Diego! It is a demand-based $810M per year “industry.”

So, while I run and enjoy the sun there are up to 21 women enslaved and exploited against their will EVERY day with no hope and no way out.

I grew up in communist Russia without the freedom that many US citizens seem to take for granted. In addition, my father was in prison for most of my upbringing, so I know what it’s like to have physical freedom taken away. His being gone, left me very unprotected and vulnerable (a condition human traffickers seek to exploit).  

Even that, as difficult and challenging as it was, pails to comparison to some of the stories we hear from the ladies who are in recovery from human trafficking that we get to help. Stories that the ladies share with us would not only break your heart, they would make you question whether or not we truly live in a free country.  

We have been working with these women in San Diego for over 6 years, restoring their smiles, which are severly damaged from trauma and other forms of abuse. Their deformed broken mouths are not only a constant PTSD trigger for them, but often prevent them from finding work or new healthy relationships.

In 2023-60 yrs after the MLK Jr delivered his “I have a dream!’’ Speech AND 160 years after slavery in the US was abolished, we STILL have slavery in the US!

Human Trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”(22 U.S.C. 7102 (11)(A)). Slavery IS in the definition of trafficking.

MLK Jr is my favorite person in history. I LOVE and appreciate all people.  Our differences and unique backgrounds is what makes this country such a beautiful place to live and the land of opportunity and innovation. Our diversity is what gives our society strength and access to immense human potential.

As I was broken for the enslaved in our community, reflecting on what more I could do to a bring higher level of justice into our experience, I read the inspiring “I have a Dream” speech. Each time I hear it or read it, my heart filled with joy for how far we have come and sadness for how much more we have to accomplish to truly have “liberty and justice for all”.  

I have a dream too! The speech may or may not get written or delivered, yet it LIVES in my heart. My dream is for San Diego to be a place of true freedom - no women, nor children enslaved through human trafficking!

“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out a true meaning of its creed: “We hold theses truths to be self-evident, that al men are created equal.” Martin Luther King. Jr. 1963.

The photo above is of an actual rescued lady we have helped. She is a true inspiration! She came to us a couple of years ago without any upper teeth and all lower teeth almost complete black with decay. Having a healthy and beautiful smile has allowed her to move past the sense of being a victim to a that of a thriver.

She is finishing up her nursing program! We are looking forward to her graduation! I suggest that she would not be employable as a nurse nor almost anywhere else with her teeth in the condition they origionally were.  Now, you can see the joy and strength on her face! You can see the beuatiful person, not the old distracting traumatic deformities. .

I will be sharing some stories on a regular basis. We can’t always share the photos due to the sensitive nature of the situation these ladies are in, but I can share some of their stories with you, so you can feel connected and KNOW you ARE making a DIFFERENCE.

I sincerely hope that you are moved, touched and inspired AND that this is a catalyst for taking ACTION - action is what moves things!

What action can you take?

  1. Schedule a cosmetic consultation with me (10% of all smile rehabilitation goes to support our effort to help others by a direct contribution to Inspire Changes - our non profit dedicated to that effort.
  2. Refer a friend or family who may be interested in improving their smile for the FREE consultation with me.
  3. Make a direct tax deductible contribution to Inspire Changes - 501 (c) 3 whose mission is to restore smiles of trafficking survivors.   Go to and find the donation button or click below.

Call the practice at (858) 876-9100 for reservation and press the link below to make your donation.

We can only do so much as individuals, and we can do a LOT more as a community!

THANK you in advance!

With love and gratitude,

Dr. Elona 💗

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