Monday, April 4, 2011

The young dentist volunteers

The report below is being adapted with consent from the authors of the original post at the The Young Dentists Website.
Dr Des Naidoo and Dr Ash Phillips - Far away from Medicare and
private health funds, a volunteer dental trip to Cambodia proved far greater
on our outlook of dentistry than we would have ever thought…

One2One Cambodian Tooth Angel Project aims to bring desperately
needed basic dental and medical treatment to the most vulnerable and
destitute people of Cambodia: the orphans, street children, people with
HIV and prisoners.

Our team of 6 New Zealand and Australian volunteer dentists all had
varying motives for going on the trip. Some had done volunteering
locally before, but wanted to see their skills used in a needy community
abroad. Others wanted to travel and saw this as a good opportunity to
give back. Nevertheless, we all had a common goal - help the community
as best we could and enjoy ourselves at the same time.

We arrived in Cambodia in the unbearably hot dry-season! We spent a
few days in Siem Riep, the tourist capital of Cambodia, for a spot of R&R
while preparing for the work that was to come. We then travelled to Phnom
Penh, where we met the One2One staff who instantly made us feel at
home in their guest house. At 5am the next day, we convened on the bus
together with 14 dental students, a pharmacist, 2 nurses and One2One
support staff.

We headed for Ratanakiri, an isolated province in the north-east of
Cambodia. Ratanakiri is known for its beautiful waterfalls and crater lakes
but is one of the least developed regions. The twelve-hour bus trip was
an adventure in itself - spirits were high and everyone was in a great mood
and neither the flat tyre, dust-filled bus or endless hours of Cambodian
karaoke would prevent us from enjoying ourselves!

On arrival, we found ourselves in the dusty courtyard of the prison. There
was a roof held up by struts in the centre, and this was to be our clinic.
The Dental Students from the Phnom Penh International University ran
like a well-oiled machine with: setting up our outdoor make-shift surgery,
assisting us and sterilizing instruments.

There were 10 to 15 prisoners per cell with less than a square metre
each, with no toilet or running water facilities. After many dizzy spells in
the 40 °C heat, we found a “prophylactic” banana morning and afternoon
helped to keep the prisoners energy levels up during treatment. This was
not surprising knowing their diet is usually a bowl of rice with some brothy
vegetables twice a day.

We treated 177 prisoners (142 male, 5 female), prison staff and their
families. We performed 200 extractions, 3 surgical extractions, 94 fillings
and 14 scaling (they all needed it though). With the exception of a
few, many prisoners did not routinely brush their teeth. Along with oral
hygiene instruction, each patient was given a new toothbrush and tube of

Health checks by the medical team treated infections, scabies, lice
and other illnesses as well as de-worming tablets to the entire prison

Despite the hot, dusty and clammy conditions, we felt the discomfort was
a small price to pay to help these people, with many never having had
access to dental or medical services previously. The prisoners were all
remarkably polite and respectful to us. We found it especially rewarding
working with the dental students. They were incredibly thankful to be
receiving hands-on dental work with one-on-one supervision from us, and
we could see a definite improvement in their skills in the days we spent
with them. These are effects that we feel will really manifest themselves for
years to come.

In our downtime, we would get together with the dental students to relax:
eating, drinking and playing various games. I will always remember the
Australasia vs Cambodia arm-wrestling tournament. Unfortunately, we did
not do our countries proud but in our defence, some of those boys were
very well fed! Our final night ended with a cultural evening, where we were
taught the Cambodian dance, Apsara. After their serene dance, our reply
with the New Zealand Haka came as a shock to them.

On returning to Phnom Penh, we prepared a short lecture series of general
dental topics, which we presented to the dental class. With word-for-word
translation, we were reassured the message was conveyed. It was a bittersweet
end re-joining some of the Dental students when we dropped into
the HIV-affected orphanage with goodie-bags that the kids were thrilled to
receive. With most under 12yo, they may have been small in stature, but
they each had huge personalities.

We definitely were not all work and no play. We could not travel to
Cambodia without seeing Angkor Wat, one of the world’s greatest
wonders. Built on a swamp, this intricately carved stone-walled temple
is the most renowned of the 700 temples in the area. The Russian
Markets where nothing is priced tested our bargaining skills with the eager
shopkeepers. Other worthwhile sights included the Tuol Sleng Genocide
Museum, Cheung Ek Killing Fields, Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.

We found this dental volunteering trip surpassed what we could have
possibly experienced from simply travelling. Because we were contributing
to their country, the locals were more than willing to take us in and
immerse us in their lives, feeding us and taking us to the best local hotspots.
We will never forget our time in Cambodia, and will surely return
to see our new friends. Embarking on this or any volunteer dental trip
will reward you with an invaluable cultural and life experience, and a new
found appreciation for being a dentist!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Faces of children in the Canalside Clinic

Many of the children do not go to school because they need to work for food to help their families. They say that they really want to study, but they cannot as their parents need their help and if they go to school they will have no food to eat.

Even though many of these children are very young they need to work hard just for daily food for themselves and for their family. They have all had to grow up very quickly and are busy working from very early morning until late evening every day. Their faces show no hope, have no joy and are full of worry.

Camkid Thursday Clinics

CamKids Clinic 1: The children in the Community

Please find below an overview of the activities that occur in our CamKids Clinics.

The team consists of 4 members who all give their time generously to help the children of our community.
Emma, Nurse Midwife:  Emma helps us plan the activities each week. She is very kind with the people and the children in the community and has a great love for all children regardless of their background or health issues.
Lyla, Midwife Student:  Lyla is a big help and is always very happy to work with the children. She is in charge of showering and taking care of other physical needs like cutting their nails. She also generously lets us use her car to help the team. 
Sineap , Midwife Student:  Sineap helps support our team

CamKids Clinic 2: Children getting hair washed

CamKids Clinic 3: Children getting their nails cut at the clinics 

CamKids Clinic 4: Most houses cost $5 to rent a month. These are built with wood, tin & metal which the people buy at the local shop

CamKids Clinic 5: Most people in the village have a job doing recycling as a way to provide for their daily lives

CamKids Clinic 6: Inside a house in Canal Side

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Never too young to volunteer!

Deborah was twelve when she first got involved with Cambodia…largely because of her mother. Her mother was involved with CTAP (Cambodia Tooth Angel Project) in 2008 (a not-for-profit organization that aims to deliver medical and dental care for the poor but especially for orphans, slum dwellers and the children in prison just because their mum or dad are in prison). Initially, Deborah’s involvement was limited to just helping out at home by cataloguing donated medicine. Soon however she found that she wanted to do more and told her mother. In response, her mother suggested that she and her two older sisters accompany her on her next trip with CTAP into the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.

That was the first time Deborah had traveled into Cambodia. She had never been to a third world country before, so this trip of volunteering in Cambodia was full of great new experiences for her.

Even at the tender age of twelve then, she was given the opportunity to do a wide range of jobs with the team she came to Cambodia with: A doctor, a nurse, a medical assistant and three other volunteers. As part of the team, she would often go out to administer free health checks to orphanages, the slums and to rural communities. Health checks are necessary to identify and treat infections, scabies, lice and other illnesses as well as de-worming them. 

One of the main orphanages that the team visited was the Happy Tree Orphanage, home to approximately one hundred children between the ages of 6 months to 14 years.

They brought over a 100 teddy bears that someone in New Zealand had knitted and each of the children in the orphanage received their own teddy bear. It was amazing to see how much the gifts were appreciated by the children who were so taken with them that they wouldn’t put them down.

Deborah has since been back to Cambodia. The majority of her time on her second trip was working with an early childhood educator, Fiona, and her daughter, Allyse, along with two other volunteers from New Zealand. They brought learning resources and material (like counting bean bags and footballs) for the children and Allyse and Deborah would assist Fiona when she was teaching them, as well as playing games with them and reading to them. 

This experience has made Deborah realize what a privileged life she leads compared to some of the children she has seen. There are many children in orphanages all round Cambodia and often they are provided with very little.  They don’t have their own clothes, or toys or even pencils, so anything that they are given is really quite special to them.

CTAP (Cambodia Tooth Angel Project) has grown so much that they have now registered in Cambodia as One-2-One CAMBODIA. Not only are they involved in dental programs but also they have also expanded into providing medical support  and sponsorship to older orphans and children to further their studies with the end objective of helping them find a way of making a living.

On Deborah’s most recent trip to Cambodia a few weeks ago, One-2-One CAMBODIA took seventy orphans out to a restaurant for dinner. This was the very first time that they had ever been to a restaurant. They had never seen so much food in one go in their entire lives and it was amazing to see how much they ate and how much they enjoyed themselves.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mobile Swift visit to Banteay Meanchey Community

From July 12th to 16th  2010, the Mobile Swift Team of One-2-One CAMBODIA in partnership with the Denmark Dental Health Without Borders, visited the Banteay Meanchey Province for providing dental and basic health care to the residents in the community.

This trip was made possible with the generous sponsorship of Camkids. It was a fantastic co-operative effort along with the help Dental Health without Borders, Dental Students from International University of Cambodia as well as dental students from Ireland and volunteers from England. A reflection of how global partnership within the community in Banteay Meanchay making a huge difference.


The place was very muddy. On the day that our team arrived it rained non stop. As a result, it was very difficult and we were faced with challenging working condition. The villagers however made us so welcome and worked very hard with us to set up. Our team gladly rolled up our sleeves and got working.

Dental work: In total the team treated 470 patients including 73 adults (female 49, Male 24). We also conducted routine checks on 84 children who ended up not requiring treatments and 313 children who did have treatments. We had 11 chairs. In total, we treated 231female, 189male. In the 4 days that we were there,  the team carried out 423 Extractions; 79Filling; 13Scaling; 04 fluorides and gave out 470 toothpaste and toothbrushes. After the treatment our team gave gifts like sticker, balloons, and color books were handed out to the children.

Medical work: De-worming 470patients, 55 nits and 30 nail clipping. The medical team was truly a partnership effort, led by One-2-One staff.  We involved the local women and spent time teaching them basic healthcare like  how to look after their children's hair, finger nails, deworming schedules etc . It was a relaxed but very fulfilling experience  - seeing the same mothers the next day and knowing how much they appreciated our support and understood the importance of being able to help/support their own families and friends through the basic skills they acquired made all our efforts worthwhile.

Sport/Game activities: Two English students (Sam and Dan) spent time with the local children playing soccer while they waited to see the dental team. They were also invited into the school, behind the community church, to teach the children English and also to play some fun games.

The week was focused on the needs of the local village and their people. We provided dental treatment dental education for all ages, basic health and hygiene education with hands-on experience of nail clipping, de-worming, nit treatment and hand washing. Being invited into the classrooms and playing and working with local children has given us opportunities to build relationships, trust and to reinforce the messages of hygiene and sport/exercise as being important to good health and prevention of illnesses.

Last day at work: At the end of the day our One-2-One staff organized a small party to thank the overseas team and Cambodian students for the hard work. We gave each of our visitors a certificate for their hard work with One-2-One. After the formalities were taken care of, the Cambodian students taught everyone some traditional Khmer dancing. It was a night of fun…a fitting conclusion to a successful mobile trip.