How Bitcoin Is Providing A Reason For Elderly El Salvadorians To Smile
Since El Salvador became the first government in the world to legalise bitcoin, there has been no lack of detractors and doubters anticipating the experiment’s failure.
Yet for many elderly inhabitants of El Zonte – the coastal community that originally persuaded President Nayib Bukele to go down the cryptocurrency rabbit hole – bitcoin has brought only smiles.
Enrique Berrios, a local dentist, has waived fees and travelled to distant, rural patients since he moved to town 17 years ago. After meeting the bitcoin community that has established a presence in El Zonte, his good efforts have gained worldwide recognition.
Payment processor BTCPay Server and online forum Bitcoin Design have partnered with Berrios to develop Bitcoin Smiles – a cryptocurrency crowdfunding campaign that started accepting contributions in August with a goal of 1BTC (currently worth roughly $47,000).
Bitcoin Smiles has surpassed its fundraising goal in less than five months, reaching a total of 1.88239BTC as of 19:10 GMT on Friday, December 31, 2021. Berrios will use the bonus monies to purchase portable equipment that will enable him to see patients who are unable to go to his office.
“Not everyone in the rural region around his workplace has the resources or access to transportation,” Bitcoin Smiles states on its fundraising page. “Many are physically incapable of making the journey. Berrios sometimes had to climb hours up mountains to do home visits.”
Poor dental hygiene is well recognised as a factor in mental illness and poor self-esteem, especially among persons who are missing the majority of their teeth — a situation that many of Berrios’s patients encounter.
Along with impairing their psychological well-being, the illness may be severe enough to impair nutritional health by restricting foods.
“It is not simply a lack of availability to food that complicates their life; it is also a lack of ability to eat. Due to their inability to chew, individuals often have to swallow food “The website provides further information. “They have limited food options and often subsist on a diet of mushy tortillas.”
Pavlenex, the inventor of the BTCPay Server and the founder of Bitcoin Smiles, said that the project began as a one-off but now “certainly has the potential to evolve into a true non-profit company established.”
Meanwhile, Bitcoin Smiles is chronicling Berrios’ efforts via videos and images shared on its Twitter account. Whatever one’s opinion on El Salvador’s bitcoin experiment, the cryptocurrency is enhancing the lives of hundreds of destitute and neglected residents of El Zonte.