Tanzania is home to 52 million people and among them, astonishingly, a mere 250 dentists. Residents of the country’s many rural communities are therefore forced to walk long distances over difficult terrain to obtain any form of dental aid. And the standards of hygiene at many of these practices remain alarmingly underdeveloped.
When German dentist Prof Dr Martin Jörgens stayed at &Beyond Klein’s Camp six years ago, he opted to visit the nearby Ololosokwan community with his ranger Seleu. Wanting to learn more about how Africa Foundation works with the community to provide healthcare, Dr Jörgens met with the doctors at the Ololosokwan Clinic (a ten-room medical facility built by Africa Foundation).
The interaction had such a profound effect on him, that Dr Jörgens went on to found Daktari for Maasai (Doctors for Maasai), a mobile dental clinic for the Maasai people. He and his incredible team of dental/medical professionals continue to work closely with &Beyond and Africa Foundation, providing much-needed dental work in and around some of our Tanzanian lodges three times a year.
On their most recent dental mission, Daktari for Maasai spent two weeks treating patients (lodge staff and local community members) at &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and the Ololosokwan Clinic just outside of &Beyond Klein’s Camp.
Daktari for Maasai are now also working in collaboration with UNESCO and Samsung to provide permanent telemedicine and specialist dental services to the Ololosokwan community. Two large containers have been donated and will soon form part of the Ololosokwan Clinic; this is another great example of different organisations working together for the greater good of humanity.
Daktari for Maasai have completed thousands of hours of consultations, with treatments ranging from 30 minutes to more than six hours. They treat up to 40 patients a day and have successfully treated more than 4 000 patients in six years.
Earlier this year, I interviewed one of the daktari’s highly satisfied patients, Assistant Lodge Manager Vitalis Massay, at &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. His two-hour treatment back in 2012 not only transformed his smile and physical demeanour, but, having met Vitalis a few years ago, I could immediately sense his renewed self-confidence and sense of pride. He confessed, “I feel a lot more confident and happy, and I smile a lot more.” And with a twinkle in his eye, he joked, “I’m a lot more attractive to women now too.”
These do-good dentists are truly changing lives and giving so many people a boost of confidence and a reason to smile.
Images courtesy of Daktari for Maasai.