In September last year, Alex, Trudi and Claire made an unforgettable trip to Uganda as volunteers with the Wiltshire based dental charity – Dentaid. Dentaid provides pain relief clinics in remote areas of Uganda, to people who are too poor to afford essential dental treatment.
We travelled around the south west of Uganda, starting at an orphanage full of children of all ages. We worked with a team of four or five Ugandan dental officers, along with 11 of us volunteers from the U.K. All the equipment was transported from place to place in a bus, and included portable, non-electric chairs provided by Dentaid. Clinics were set up in schools, churches, community centres and even on a banana plantation! We had no running water or electricity, visibility was helped by torches.
The Ugandan diet is reasonably healthy, but like many areas of Africa, fizzy drinks are everywhere and are the only safe, affordable, drink for adults and children alike. Bottled water is more expensive! Sadly this means a high decay rate; Ugandan teeth are literally dissolving away. We extracted hundreds of teeth from over a thousand people that we saw during our two weeks. One lady had been experiencing the misery of toothache for two years! We will never forget the sight of 400 people queuing to see us at 8 o’clock in the morning!
Along with this, we gave away hundreds of toothbrushes and toothpastes and gave vital dental health education. Alex and Trudi supported the dentists with their excellent nursing skills and Claire used her valued skills as a Hygienist to remove mountains old calculus, and help with post-operative care. We all worked long demanding days, then travelled to our next destination. Food and accommodation were basic and the toilets were an experience – definitely not 5 star!
We arrived home, never wanting to see a banana again, but with a deep sense of fulfilment that we had been able to make a difference to so many lives. We also felt very grateful for all that we take for granted.
The trip cost £6300 and Alex, Trudi and Claire would like to thank the Practice, Malmesbury Rotary Club, Chippenham Lions, our patients and everyone else who kindly donated to the funding of this worthwhile and fulfilling project.
For more information about Dentaid please go to www.dentaid.org