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A reunion with a difference

Posted in: Blog, by Bridge2Aid Team, on 10th October 2013 | 0 comments

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I have just returned from my first DVP with Bridge2Aid in Tanzania knowing that it won’t be my last, and want to thank the more than 100 donors who have contributed on my behalf.

 

I grew up in Tanzania in the 60s and 70s where I had a happy childhood and was delighted to hear that Bridge2Aid was looking for dentists to go to rural Tanzania to relieve dental pain.

Filled with trepidation after 40 years away from the country, I joined an amazing team of dentists and nurses from all parts of the UK and flew out to Bukoba on the western shore of Lake Victoria, 1 degree south of the equator.

A bus took us out to two different rural clinics (with no electricity and no water) in the midst of lush, green countryside where mud huts were still the norm.

blog1-4Over 6 days our team saw over 650 patients for pain relieving extractions whilst we taught 6 Tanzanian Clinical Officers to do the same once we had departed. It was the most natural thing in the world for me, back home doing a job I was trained for and loving the fantastic team spirit of it all. The few words of Swahili I remembered from my childhood came in useful and it was immensely satisfying to engage with the charming, appreciative, colourful, smiling people of rural Tanzania. Many had walked for miles, had been in pain for up to two years and often had not had any breakfast. They were stoic, cooperative and orderly, quick to engage in humour and very trusting of our team. It was a real privilege to do the work.

I had come full circle.

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Once work had finished we played with the local children, including blowing bubbles for them and playing football before boarding the bus back to Bukoba.  Back at our hotel we had a debriefing session every day and then consolidated our team friendships with hours of camaraderie round a blazing campfire.

 

Bridge2Aid took excellent care of us so that we could concentrate on the work and I was very impressed with the close contact the charity had with Tanzanian government officials, its understanding of Tanzanian culture and the simple philosophy of giving skills to local people using the knowledge and experience of UK dentists.

This particular DVP was so worthwhile and sustainable in terms of pain relief and training the local clinical officers to relieve pain that I have already signed up to return in 2013 and hope that my daughter, who is a trainee dental nurse, might join me in 2014.

– Estelle Los


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