News feature: One dentist’s hope for Burma
Hope 4 the World is a charity training local people in Burma in medical and dental skills that can mean the difference between life and death.
Teams of dentists, doctors, nurses and midwives from the UK are sent to the refugee camps in safe zones in the trouble country to provide nationals with basic medical skills.
These students can then travel deeper into the jungle, equipped with basic medical and dental kits provided by the charity, to help those in desperate need.
Burma is ruled by a repressive and illegal military junta that has systematically adopted a policy of ethnic cleansing, and has an appalling human rights record since seizing power from the democracy movement.
Not only is it hard for ordinary citizens to earn a living, it is becoming increasingly dangerous for the 10 minority tribes to continue living there.
Along the Burmese/Thai border there are refugee camps for those who have fled the military regime.
The internally displaced people face the threat of military incursions that result in villages being destroyed, crops burned, women raped and children forced into the military or slave labour.
Shaila Patel (pictured above, left) is one of the dental volunteers, and is preparing for her third trip with the Dentists 4 Burma arm of the charity.
She will be part of a team of six this November. She has already been to the Burmese/Thai border twice to teach Shan nationals basic dental skills, assessing emergencies, including extractions and analgesia.
Shaila says: ‘There is no running water or electricity and we are situated on jungle hilltops. The circumstances are very difficult but the people are so resourceful and they really want to learn.’
The skills she teaches allows her students to pass on valuable training to others, to make an ongoing difference to the level of healthcare in the country.
She explains: ‘The trips are short, I went out there for 10 days and then for two weeks, which means UK dentists can easily fit it around their normal working life. The charity needs more dentists to get involved, we’ve only had five or six volunteers so far, and not all of them are able to go back for a second or third visit.’
Shaila would like a dentist to go with her when she leaves on Friday 5 November.
She explains: ‘I’m heading over with a midwife, and maybe a doctor, but it would be fantastic if there was another dentist, too!
‘I am also planning to hold a social event when I get back to share my experiences with others’.
Dental companies are also invited to donate equipment to allow the charity to continue to carry out its extraordinary work.
If you would like to help or want to learn more, call 07809 234558 or email [email protected]
Alternatively, visit www.hope4theworld.org to make a donation that will help pay for necessary equipment.
Shaila has set up her own sponsorship page to help fund her trip at www.justgiving.com/ShailaP.