Hobson’s choice….

Posted in: Articles, by Rachel Purdy, on 23rd January 2015 | Comments Off on Hobson’s choice….

magalita before 3When Magalita (78) spoke, she did so in her tribal Kurya language; very slowly and quietly. It was hard to understand her whispers; even her grandson, who interpreted for us, struggled to catch every word. She had a swelling the size of a child’s fist on the right side of her face. Her pain and discomfort was evident.


Two years ago Magalita resorted to accepting her son’s offer of ‘help’. He had seen her suffering with pain for nearly 9 years.  In desperation, and with no other safe, affordable option, the family agreed that they should try something to relieve their mother of her dental pain.


With a regular kitchen knife, two willing assistants and not an ounce of dental or medical experience or knowledge among them, her son extracted his mother’s offending tooth. When asked about the experience, Magalita just shook her head and looked down at the floor.


magalita before 1Two years on, Magalita has a huge swelling to the right side of her face. She finds it difficult to talk or to eat anything other than porridge.


During the Dental Volunteer Programme in October 2014, the Bridge2Aid training team met Magalita. They identified the cause of the swelling as a benign tumour and immediately referred her to Tarime district hospital.


After hearing Magalita’s horrific story, the team knew that unless Magalita received some support, she would never make it to the district hospital – the costs of transport, treatment, and accommodation involved with the visit was not something the family would ever be able to afford.magalita before 2


Bridge2Aid agreed to support Magalita with her on-going treatment and the associated costs.


Three months later, in January 2015, Magalita had been referred to the regional hospital in Mwanza. She arrived with her grandson after a long journey consisting of motorbikes, a four hour bus ride, ‘daladalas’ (local bus) and a taxi. The journey to Mwanza alone had cost Magalita and her grandson a total of Tsh34,800 (the equivalent of around 8 days’ income for a rural farming family).


Magalita underwent an operation at Bugando hospital and the tumour was removed. She is now recovering at home with her family and is now able to open her mouth normally. Once the stitches have been removed she is looking forward to eating something other than porridge!magalita after 1

magalita after 2

Magalita and her family are extremely thankful to Bridge2Aid and the training team for all their support.


Magalita is one of the lucky ones. She happened to meet the Bridge2Aid training team who were able to help her. However, for the majority like Magalita living with dental pain in the rural areas of Tanzania the outlook is grim. The decision is not easy; undergo an operation by unskilled personnel and risk living with the consequences of a bodged extraction, or pay for treatment and forfeit the money needed to feed, educate and support the family.

What would you do?…

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