WHDO Volunteer and Board Member, David Rempel, shares his experience providing care at The Maasai Dental Clinic as a volunteer dentist.
I have volunteered with World Health Dental Organization almost every year since 2014. Some years I have gone to volunteer at the Maasai Dental Clinic multiple times. I have exceeded a cumulative total of 12 months volunteering and gone on over 50 safari rides. It feels too much to try to encapsulate that entire history. Here is part of my story.
I suspect that the kind of person who volunteers with WHDO will care as much about giving quality dental care to those less fortunate as they do about having a good safari experience. The good news on that issue is that the need for dental care seems endless! We are doing what we can through education of the school children to raise dental IQ. This education empowers patients to know more about what is happening in their mouth with diet and hygiene. They are also motivated to seek preventative care or seek care at the onset of early symptoms, rather than wait until the tooth is so badly broken that it can’t be restored and thus extracted.
As the volunteer dentist, you will be the difference between continuing pain and relief for many patients. For some, you will be the difference between life and death.
In my time at MDC, I have made two diagnoses of intraoral cancer and removed several teeth, which were causing severe life-threatening abscesses.
My last day in 2021, I had two patients who could barely open their jaws due to abscessed teeth. I wasn’t able to operate on one of the two patients, even after three days of antibiotics. The other was able to open a bit more after an Akinosi, and then the usual Gow Gates achieved numbness. We also got an x-ray, which established 18 (37) as the culprit. I couldn’t use my usual technique, but I slipped the cow horns on and rolled that tooth out. SUCCESS!
All of our work at the Clinic is life changing, but there’s no doubt I made a life-changing difference for her that day.
We’re supported by great staff, like William, the on-site Clinic Director at MDC. I recommend you ASK FIRST before doing anything. He will guide you in everything with care, from avoiding rip-offs in small purchases to escaping charging elephants while on safari.
The care William provides for both the volunteers and patients is unparalleled. On one of my stays I developed a cough. At breakfast one day, William said, “I heard you coughing again last night. At first, you didn’t cough, I thought ‘maybe he stopped breathing.’ Then I heard you cough, and I thought ‘maybe he’s sick again.’ But then I counted how often you coughed, and it was your normal amount, so I fell asleep.’” That is the level of care William will give you, if you let him.
That is the level of care you will find at the Maasai Dental Clinic, for both the patients and the volunteers.