The Trip - Volunteer Dentistry Abroad
In 2009, myself and my family unit of 5 grown - ups set out on a journey of a lifetime.
The shortened details are that we went and worked with financially disadvantaged children literally from 'both sides of the fence' in a clinic in East Jerusalem, no distinction on religious background or ethnicity, just if you couldn't afford it, basic dental care provided by a group of international dentist volunteers working in a 4 chair room, from Sunday to Thursday, all year round, with local employees as the back-up nursing and clerical staff. Equipment and materials were supplied by local fund raising and donations.
Poverty had made sure that dentistry was so far down the list for these families, after food, clothing and a roof over their heads. The cost of water was greater than the cost of soft drinks, so lemonade was the drink of choice and with it came the not unexpected incredible sea of decay and rotting teeth.
The organizers of the clinic said that the population of Jerusalem is approximately 900, 000 of which 200, 000 are kids under the poverty line. It seems whether extremely religious Jewish or Muslim, big families are the way to go and if you have 9 kids, poverty is a real issue. They also said that the biggest cause of children missing time at school in Jerusalem was a toothache.
For me , the journey was amazing. I got to have a 6 month trip with my amazing wife and 3 grown up sons, separate and different to our life here in Australia. We managed to get out and about and do lots of trips throughout Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Israel. We saw and experienced so much history and culture of so many origins. Professionally, I was able to experience something that has reinvigorated me in a way I never expected after 30 years of dentistry- it gave me an opportunity to help others from a pure giving point of view. The personal growth has been massive and left me to be challenged as to what and from where my next journey will be.
Dr Jeffrey Jankie