August 2nd 2018 saw our band of merry dental professionals meet at Dubai airport laden down with boxes and cases full of dental provisions and 270 sanitary packs called angel wings from Rags to Riches to help stop period poverty. Our destination Aitong the Mara the home of the Nilotic ethnic group known as the Maasai.
We eventually arrived after a long flight and a 5 hour bus ride on African roads better known as an african massage!
Aitong has a community health clinic but resources are limited and there is not a dental clinic usually the Doctor will perform emergency treatments.
We set up make shift clinical areas and a sterilisation unit using the two slow cookers we took with us. Luckily we had electricity from an oil generator.
Teeth are a very important part of Maasai culture.
Historically the canine teeth and the two central lower teeth due to perceived illness prevention. We experienced many people asking for teeth to be removed for cultural reasons rather than necessity which caused interesting discussion between clinicians.
For 5 days we worked until we lost the light. Our team work system worked incredibly well using everyone to their competence, allowing us to see and treat as many people as we could.
We were able to connect with over 500 Children whom reside at Aitong school to avoid the perilous journey walking across the Mara, they each received dental health lessons and toothbrush & toothpaste thanks to our sponsors.
The end result:
- 77 dental extractions
- 19 dental fillings
- 26 cleanings
- 81 child dental screenings
- 270 re-usable sanitary kits distributed
- dozens of oral health lessons
- 2000 toothbrushes and toothpaste distributed
I would like to thank Simi for being fabulous and looking after us in every way, the staff at Enaitoti Hotel who kept us comfortable and well fed, my fellow volunteers especially Rachel and Hilary for doing a grand job for facilitating the trip – You Rock- but the biggest thank you to the Maasai for the warm welcome into their community and trusting us with their mouths.
We gave our time, dental education and treatment but I believe we gained so much more. I am reminded of how lucky and privileged we are to have clean water, plenty of food, electricity and good sanitation but do we appreciate it?
Africa never disappoints with colour, sounds, and endless smiles not too mention the bonus of the seeing the migration of the animals to Tanzania.