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Global Dental Voluntourism Program Expands into Africa

Posted on May 3, 2012

 

Denver, Colorado (PRWEB) May 02, 2012 – Global Dental Relief (GDR), a non-profit organization that provides free dental care and oral hygiene education to impoverished children in Nepal, India, Vietnam and Guatemala, today announced its expansion into Africa beginning in February 2013.

GDR will hold volunteer-staffed dental clinics at the Kikuyu Hospital Dental Clinic. Located in the hills outside Nairobi, Kenya, the facility was built in 2006 through the efforts of the First Presbyterian Church of Fargo, North Dakota. The result of a chance encounter between GDR Executive Director Laurie Mathews and Dr. Bill Hunter, lead dentist on the clinic construction project, the partnership will significantly expand the number of children served by the clinic. “We built the clinic hoping that a quality facility would attract more dentists, bringing more desperately needed care to this region,” said Hunter. “We are delighted to be partnering with Global Dental Relief and Dr. Wambugnu of the Kikuyu Hospital Dental Clinic to achieve that objective.”

Each five-day dental camp will host up to 16 GDR volunteers, six dental professionals and ten non-dental volunteers, who will work alongside the dental hospital’s local staff. Clinics will see 800-1000 local school children, providing them with first-time dental care in a country that has 48 million people and only 750 dentists. Past volunteers with GDR are enthusiastic about the new location, filling all of the volunteer slots within four days of learning of the opportunity.

“This is an ideal partnership between like-minded organizations,” said GDR Board Chair Melanie Melcher. “Working in a fully equipped clinic improves working conditions for dentists and hygienists, increasing both our efficiency and the level of care we can offer local children.”

GDR’s mission is to provide free dental care to impoverished children in the locations that it serves. The organization recruits volunteer dental professionals who pay their own way to deliver care to children from charity schools, orphanages and remote village locations. Non-dental volunteers are essential on each trip to provide clinic support – assisting dentists, managing the lines of patients, and helping teach tooth brushing and oral hygiene. The children return to the clinic for follow-up care and education every one and a half to two years. “This is a model that works,” says GDR Director Laurie Mathews. “After multiple visits, many of the children arrive with well brushed teeth, requiring fewer extractions and smaller restorations. They are free of the chronic pain and infection often present in untreated populations. We love the smiles on the faces of these healthy, returning children.”

At the end of the Kenya clinic, volunteers have an option to participate in a four-day safari through the famous Masai Mara National Park. For more information on this and other volunteer projects, visit http://www.globaldentalrelief.org or contact volunteer director Kim Troggio of Global Dental Expeditions: kimt(at)globaldentalrleief(dot)org or (800) 543-1171.