Volunteering

It’s a typical story on the international volunteer circuit: dentist X volunteers in country Y for 2 weeks, extracts 700 teeth, places an equal number of sealants, has a memorable cultural experience and leaves feeling satisfied. Yet local people are left once again with raised expectations and few resources with which to fulfill them…

Murray Dickson and Geraldine Dickson, 2005

There can be much debate about the rights and wrongs of volunteer based programs. On a very simple and simplified level if we consider “volunteering” to be working – but without financial reward – then voluntary activities require the same level of consideration, ethics, planning, implementation and evaluation as any other sustained program.

There are many avenues to dental volunteering both in Australia and internationally. By seeking out those organisations that act responsibly and work in strong partnership with local agencies and governments, dental volunteers can provide an investment into local communities through skills transfer, offering support and most of all, respecting local conditions.

The past 5-10 years have seen an enormous growth in volunteer based projects.  Most are genuine, though some can be a business disguised as a “charity” or NGO type program. Potential volunteers would be wise to investigate carefully any project they might be interested in, and if possible, contact others who have already worked on particular projects.

The Australian Dental Association had produced a checklist for those wishing to find out more about volunteering, and appropriate organisations.

There is some information in Links about established volunteer programs, and Resources for useful articles.

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Uni of Newcastle team last year in Arubot.... folks, thanks to Surya at left, TT can continue to support the reconstruction of lost homes. The villagers welcome you to return and see how people are rebuilding their lives. Namaste and Laso!! ...

Thanks Australian Dental Association for these magnificent flowers. It was an honour to be invited by the ADA to share information about TT’s Nepal activities, with dentists young and not so young. ...

One of the recipients of the latest round of funds raised by TT’s helpers to support post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal. Arjun and his family have lived in a rudimentary shelter for more than 4 years; our subsidy has allowed him to finally build this small home, completed this week. Arjun is of the BK caste, considered one of the lowest and untouchable castes. One of my always-memories is the moment his piercing eyes of deep gratitude melted my insides as I handed him the key to his family toilet in 2014. Dignity. ...

Young Prem, all materials to this building site are brought in by manual labour ...