A group of volunteers from a dental practise in Swindon have returned to the UK following 11 days volunteering in Kenya during which they provided routine dental treatment, extractions and fillings to over 1,000 Kenyan villagers.
Dental care in Kenya is only available in large cities like Nairobi, meaning those who live in the villages and have no access to transport have to walk for days to receive the treatment they desperately require.
The plight of Kenyan villagers led Peter Yesudian, oral surgeon from One Wood Street Advanced Dental Care in Swindon’s Old Town, to organise the volunteer mission with three members of his dental team joining other dental specialists from around the world in six makeshift clinics set up in schools across the Rift Valley and the Masai Mara.
Joining Peter were fellow dentist Alison Redford, dental nurse Clare Morrison and practice manager and dental nurse Kelly Wills.
As well as dusty commutes taking over an hour with only a single generator to provide power for their dental tools and lights, the team had to build portable dental chairs for each new surgery they visited.
Speaking to the Swindon Advertiser, Peter said: “It was quite strange because the first day in any new village would be quiet.
“Despite being told through the usual channels, people there didn’t seem to believe we would be there until we had actually arrived and opened our doors.
“Then, as word got around that we were there, the villagers would travel for several hours to see us.”
Peter, who has visited Kenya five times added: “This is my opportunity to give something back. Working in Kenya and seeing the hardships these people endure is enlightening.”
“The whole experience is very rewarding and gives me a different perspective on life.”
For dental nurse Clare Morrison, this was her first visit to Kenya and she admitted to being scared of what she’d experience when in the country.
“Before we left for Kenya I was scared of everything – spiders, the basic, hole-in-the-floor toilets, even flying”, she said.
“When I got there I loved it. One of the moments that will stay with me forever was seeing a small boy playing with a toy that someone had made him. It was literally a bottle on a piece of string with two lids attached to it, and this little boy was so absorbed with his toy, he played with it for hours. The whole experience was very humbling.”