First-year students Denise Densmore, Kelsey Raimundo and Megan Ball, as well as three second-year students: Kerry Smith, Tyana Huetzelmann and Trisha Pichoch.
Photo by Andrea Johnson
Feb. 3, 2011
Six CNC dental hygiene students and their instructor will head to Tanzania next week to provide preventative oral health care treatment to children, adults and seniors.
Describing it as an “unreal experience,” the students will be going for two weeks as part of Projects Abroad, a volunteer organization which provides meaningful and safe work and study placements around the world.
“We’re working with two orphanages and a hospital,” said Megan Ball, a first-year dental hygiene student. “The wealthy class has access to dental care, but we’ll be seeing children who have never seen a dentist and the people who are in the hospital are there because they’re in so much pain.”
The students leave Feb. 10 for Dar es Salaam, a city of 2.8 million people located on the coast of the Indian Ocean in eastern Africa. The port city is the country’s largest and most affluent with a high concentration of trading, manufacturing and service industries.
The CNC contingent includes three first-year dental hygiene students: Denise Densmore, Kelsey Raimundo and Ball, as well as three second-year students: Kerry Smith, Tyana Huetzelmann and Trisha Pichoch. They’ll be accompanied by their instructor Heather Mohr as well long-time Prince George dentist Dr. Richard Wilczek.
“Thanks to the dental community, we’re taking all of our own supplies – masks, gloves, gauze – and all of our dental hygiene instruments,” said Mohr. “We’re not sure what we’ll find there so we want to be prepared for any situation. We’re even taking extra scrubs to leave behind.”
Staying with two host families, they’ll spend much of their time volunteering at the Myananyamala Hospital, a large government-run facility that sees an average of 1,500 patients a day. The dentistry unit serves 20 to 30 patients a day. The CNC students will provide preventative care such as fluoride treatments, oral hygiene instructions, temporary restorations as well as assisting dentists with extractions and restorative treatments.
“It will be a different clientele than we’re used to working on,” said Pichoch. “We’re trying to reach out to a population who may not know what we can offer. We’ll be working on people who may not speak English. It’s similar to what we’ll encounter with Canadian immigrants who don’t speak English.”
In between their work at the hospital, they’ll talk to children at a couple of orphanages to promote dental hygiene and oral care. They’ll also learn some Swahili (the official language of Tanzania), tour local markets, prepare traditional meals and take African dance classes.
When they return to Prince George Feb. 24, they’ll have a wealth of experience that is second to none.
“This has never been done before,” said Densmore, a first-year student. “If I had gone to another school, I don’t think I would’ve had the opportunity to travel overseas like this.”
“They’ll learn to become more flexible with these diverse challenges,” added Mohr. “They’ll be able to adapt under any circumstance.”
CNC formed a partnership with Projects Abroad in 2011 based on demand from students and faculty. This is the first group of CNC students to participate in a volunteer placement through Projects Abroad.
For more information:
Dental Hygiene instructor
250-562-2131 ext. 5620