Brent Wong graduated from Dentistry at the University of Manitoba in 2000. He spent four years working at a dental office as an employee and in 2004 he left there to establish Shine Dental.
In fact, 2004 was the year that it all started to come together as, following a dental mission to Mozambique and Zambia, Brent met Wendy who had recently graduated with a Bachelor of Interior Design degree from the University of Manitoba. Wendy had just returned from a journey to New Zealand working with Habitat for Humanity.
They were married in 2005 and in the ensuing 3 years made 12 mission trips to Mexico helping the indigenous and the indigent through dentistry and prayer. In 2008 the focus was re-directed to the Dominican Republic and, working through on site missions organizations, they continued to take teams to the Puerto Plata area building houses, clinics, schools and assisting in whatever way possible.
But Brent and Wendy felt that they wanted have more control of where their energies were directed so, in late 2010, with the assistance of a former employee who had elected to remain in the Dominican on her own volition, Shine the Light established their own programs and contacts and the trips became more directly productive with Dental Clinics and Medical Clinics being added on a regular basis.
The births of Brent and Wendy’s two sons, Jonah in July of 2007 and Isaiah in March of 2009, have not impeded the passion or dedication of the Wongs as the boys have accompanied them on each and every one of the 15 trips to the Dominican.
Brent likes to tell the story of a coastal village that was being battered by a huge storm one night. Strong winds, driving rain and crashing waves hammered at the village and the shoreline.
In the morning, when the storm had passed, a father and his young son walked upon the beach to survey the damage and were aghast to find the beach littered with thousands of starfish.
The lad turned to his father and said, “Father, what will happen to them”, to which his father replied’ “They will die, my son, as they need the water to survive.
The young boy was torn with sorrow for a moment and then he ran over, picked up a starfish and raced to the edge of the sea, where he flung the creature as far out as he could. He then grabbed another starfish and repeated the procedure. He continued to do this.
His father watched and smiled indulgently, as fathers are wont to do, and said,” Son, son, look at the numbers. You cannot possibly make a difference”.
To this the son picked up another starfish and flung it into the sea and said, “Perhaps you are right, father, but I just made a difference to that one”.
This story is the basis for the Starfish being the visual totem of Shine The Light Initiatives. We know that we cannot cure all of the ills in this world but we can make a difference to one person, one family, one community or one village at a time.