The following article was published on LattéLife Vol 2 Issue 8
Dr Barwin Yee has been a dentist in Double Bay for over 20 years, he decided to give back in the form of a recent trip with Bridge2Aid to Tanzania.
The Bay Dental Studio dentist recently went on a volunteer trip with the Bridge2Aid team to rural areas on Tanzania’s Lindi region, 7 hours from the capital city of Dar es Salaam. Dr Ye performed emergency dentistry to relieve pain for long suffering locals because there are no doctors or dentists who service that part of the world.
In the two-week period that Dr Yee was in the region, the Bridge2Aid volunteer dentists trained 6 Clinical Officers (rural health workers), who look after approximately 60,000 people in the region and they treated over 750 patients.
“Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, with only 20 percent of the country having electricity. There is basically no access to dental care outside of the main cities. Each day we travelled an hour each way to the site where we set up a make shift clinic with no electricity or running water,” Barwin told LatteLife.
“Most of the patients that I treated had tooth aches for many years. It is not uncommon for a patient to have suffered dental pain for more than 3 years with open abscess through their face or jaw and the only treatment available is from the Witch Doctors who more than often make their situation worse.”
Bridge2Aid has been running for 15 years, their mission is to strengthen local healthcare systems by training local healthcare workers in the provision of emergency dental treatment. They train rural-based health workers in developing countries, providing them with the skills, equipment and resources they need to provide emergency dental care where over 70% of the population currently do not have access to even basic dental treatment.
“It is infectious. Once you see the gratitude in the people’s eyes that you help, you can’t help but go back and do more. There is never enough that one can do,” Barwin said.
“We live in a very sheltered environment. I myself hardly ever leave the Eastern Suburbs and then to take a jump into a third world country, your eyes are opened to see how lucky we are.
“The average salary in the remote areas of Tanzania is one US dollar per family per day. You quickly learn that happiness is not in how much you have, but being content with what you have, family, friends and health. People with very little will usually be the ones that will give the most and these are the people that I want to give back to.”
For Barwin, this wasn’t his first volunteering expedition, and nor will it be his last, he has volunteered in Tonga, India, Hong Kong and Tonga.