Hope Dental – A good news story

Posted in: Blog, by Bridge2Aid Team, on 13th March 2018 | 0 comments

Our CEO Shaenna shares her memories of the history of Hope Dental – and the visionary changes that have taken place in the past year

“I feel fortunate to have had a close personal relationship with Hope Dental Centre in Tanzania for many years.  As many of you will be aware, since 2004 Bridge2Aid has run Hope as a fee-paying dental clinic in the city of Mwanza.  The aim of having the clinic was really quite innovative – both to raise funds to help support the charitable training work of Bridge2Aid, and also to provide dental services to a city otherwise with none.  The clinic was set up originally with dental equipment donated by the UK dental industry, and Ian and Andie Wilson, and Mark and Jo Topley did an amazing job of making it fulfill all of the original aims.

Before working with Bridge2Aid, I owned Chipping Manor, two dental practices in Gloucestershire, with my husband Phil. As supporters of Bridge2Aid’s work, we also supported Hope and over time have developed close links with the team there. Grace, the practice manager, visited the UK a few years ago and spent time in our practice looking at how we work.  We still have photos of her huddled in a huge overcoat to keep warm in chilly England.

When Hope relocated to new premises in Mwanza in 2014, all new equipment was again donated and installed by the UK dental industry, and Chipping Manor undertook the costs of the building work.  We felt that our team in England would benefit from supporting a project so like their own workplace, and some of our team had fun picking out things like clocks, sterilisation equipment and children’s furniture for our sister practice!

For the first ten years of Hope’s existence, a number of UK expat clinicians worked full-time in the clinic. From 2014 this input was reduced to having occasional visiting locum dentists support a full-time East African clinical team. Bridge2Aid continued however to manage the Hope team, so in 2016 Phil and I spent some time in Mwanza training the team how to maximise their resources and developing patient relationships. It was evident then that withdrawing permanent ex-pat support had enabled the local team to grow and build their own skills and the business of the practice.

In 2017, I was delighted when Bridge2Aid’s Board made the decision to hand over the clinic to a new charity formed by members of the clinic’s management team and the clinicians. It had to be the right thing to do – to put full control in the hands of the local team. EH4All (Education and Health for All) took possession of the clinic in June 2017 and have since expanded the team and developed an extended education and outreach programme.

I am really proud of the success that EH4All have made of the clinic. It has been so rewarding watching the team maintain their professionalism and standard of care while finding their own place in their community. The decision to hand Hope over to the team was definitely made at the right time, both from a sustainability point of view, but also allowing Bridge2Aid itself to focus on its core work.

Bridge2Aid continues to have a fantastic relationship with the team at Hope Dental Centre. If you would be interested in locuming there, and helping to support their education and outreach in Mwanza, please let us know by emailing volunteering@bridge2aid.org and we will put you in touch with Hope.”


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