Dentaid in the Philippines

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Dental charity Dentaid’s volunteers joined other dental teams to bring smiles to vulnerable children in the Philippines

A team of dental professionals has returned from the Philippines where they treated hundreds of children in a joint mission with two other UK charities.

Four Dentaid volunteers joined teams from Team Rubicon and Serve On for the trip to Umapad Elementary school in Cebu.

Many of the pupils at the school live on or near the city’s dump site and have to scavenge to help provide for their families. The area is also affected by earthquakes and recent tremors have damaged buildings and infrastructure.

The Dentaid team of Mark Inman, Rob Witton, Ruth Potterton (top) and Joy Baker (below) treated 383 children including many who had been suffering long-term dental pain and needed extractions.

They applied fluoride varnish to 185 children’s teeth and gave oral health education presentations to 532 youngsters. Sadly many of the children had severe decay and long queues formed to see the dental team as access to dental care in the area is very limited.

The team also visited Cebu University to meet students learning English and went to a dental school to establish links with a new generation of dentists in the Philippines.

Operation Katimbang – taken from the local word for unity – saw the three British charities working alongside each other for the first time. Serve On provided training and support for the emergency services in Cebu and taught children and staff what to do if a natural disaster strikes.

Volunteers from Team Rubicon rebuilt and refurbished classrooms that were damaged during a recent tremor, transforming them into bright, cheerful spaces.
The dental team had to rely on basic hand instruments, plastic chairs and headtorches while they screened and treated hundreds of children, but said they had never seen patients so keen to receive dental care.

“We were totally in love with the children from Umapad school, who were so polite and well mannered,” said Ruth. “The levels of decay were high and sadly lots of teeth had to be extracted. The country and the people were wonderful and 21 people from three different organisations have worked together selflessly towards one goal. I would highly recommend volunteering; it has been a wonderful experience.”

Dentaid has volunteering opportunities in many countries including Cambodia, Zambia and Uganda. To find out more visit https://dentaid.org/volunteering/