Oral health is a very important part of Camp No Name (see section on website under "Youth Enrichment.) The founder Alba Deschenes is a Registered Dental Assistant from the San Francisco bay area of California, and has been bringing her dental knowledge and skills to the children and the community in her hometown Librazhd, Albania where the camp is held.
For the past 3 years every child and family that has been a part of Camp No Name has been rovided with important toothbrushing lessons as well as toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss. This past year, with the help, generosity and selflessness of a local dentis, Dr. Zamir Alliu, we were able to go a step farther by performing dental exams on each of the children and dental treatment where needed. Dr. Zamir opened his practice doors and welcomed us. We perfomed composite restorations, extractions, root canals as well as a cleaning and flouride treatments for the children.
The highlights included when one of our favorite children, Marjusi got a brand new tooth. Marjusi broke his front tooth 2 years ago and exposed the nerve. This caused him pain daily. We were able to stop the pain and give him his smiile back. We look forward to continuing this valuable service to the children every year.
1 World 1 Tribe's oral health work in Burma is the result of what can only be called Karma. In February 2015, a team of twelve dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and voluteers traveled to Burma for the first time on a self initiated, self directed and self funded dental service project. Burma, also known as Myanmar, has been isolated from the rest of the world for nearly 50 years. In 2011, Burma started opening up due to international pressure and the work of Burma's democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Although there has been some progress towards democracy and development of the country, it is consistently listed by the UN as one of the least developed nations in the world. 90% of the population is Buddhist; and, it is considered the most religious Buddhist country in terms of proportion of monks in the population and income spent on religion.
Our connection began in 2012, when Sayadawgy Pannasiri ("Paung Paung"), a distinguished Burmese monk traveled to the US. He visited 26 states and met thousands of people over the course of a couple of months. Amongst those he met were the Chu family. Upon meeting Charles Chu, Paung Paung felt a strong connection, one he describes as a past life karmic connection. Paung Paung invited Charles and his family to visit him and stay at his monastery on a remote mountain top in western Burma. Inspired by the beauty and poverty of his home county, Charles returned to the states with a vision to return to Burma, but this time with a humanitarian purpose. He asked his good friend Dr. Maureen Valley to bring a team of dentists to the monastery to treat the monks, orphans and local villagers. He spoke to Paung Paung who thought it was a fantastic idea, and that's how the 1World 1Tribes oral health project began in Burma!
Members of the 1 World 1 Tribe team were the first from the western world to be invited by Paung Paung as his personal guests to his monastery (the Taung Pu Lu Buddhist Monastery) which is located in the small village of Mindat in Chin State. A survey by the UN Dev Program in 2011 describes the Chin State as by far the most impoverished state in Burma, making it one of the poorest regions in one of the poorest countries in the world.
Poverty and low literacy rates contribute to the lack of information, oral health awareness and access to care. Thus, we encountered an abundance of oral health problems during our dental clinic with people who had never seen a dentist before in their lives. Betel nut, a stimulant and one of the most popular psychoactive substances in the world after nicotine, alcohol and caffeiene - and highly prevalent in Burma - causes permanent deep red staining, tooth decay, gum irritation, and oral leukoplakia and submucous fibrosis, both of which are potentially malignant in the oral cavity. Periodontal disease and tooth loss were also common. A diet rich in condensed milk and sugarcane juice caused tooth decay.
Over a thousand people, most of whom had walked for days just for the chance to see us, came to the temporary dental clinic. The team worked long days, but were unable to treat everyone who was in need. However, we were able to distribute toothbrushes and deliver oral health and nutrition education to nearly everyone who came to the monastery.
After our work at the Taung Pu Lu Monastery was complete, a few of the team members took a break from the long journey back to Yangon and stayed at another of Paung Paung's monasteries. This monastery (in Kyaukpadaung) is home to approximately 32 Buddhist nuns and 15 orphan girls. Here Dr. Valley and Cassandra Chu set up a simple one dental chair clinic and with the assistance of the nuns, were able to relieve the pain that many were experiencing due to dental infections.
Paung Paung and everyone at the monastaries were extremely supportive and appreciative of the work we had done. This confirmed for us the tremendous leverage our small organization could achieve by working with committed local leaders who are as passionate as we are about bettering their community through oral health. Paung Paung has requested that we return We feel we can't let him or the Burmese people down and thus have planned our second trip back in Febrauary, 2016. We're looking forward to ongoing interactions with the amazing people of Burma.
1World 1Tribe has done more oral health work in Kenya than any other country so far. In fact, Dr. Maureen Valley and Samson Saigilu began 1World 1Tribe with a desire to combine their knowledge, skills and experience in the fields of dentistry and public health to bring change and oral health awareness to the Loitokitok District of southern Kenya.
Predominantly a Maasai area, Loitokitok is confronted by a growing number of oral health problems due to poverty, lack of education, introduction of western junk food/sweets/soda water, and inadequate access to dental care at the community level. Most people seek dental services from herbalists and local medicine men who give them herbs (roots and chew sticks which to some extent can be very toxic.) The herbalist offers services in unhygienic conditions since they use an unsterilized iron knife for tooth extractions with little consideration of their patient's HIV/AIDS status and other transmittable diseases. Some areas of Loitokitok, such as Amboseli, may be in more danger of tooth decay than others. Amboseli is home to the famous Amboseli National Game Park where thousands of tourists come each year for safari. With these tourists comes a flood of candy that is often thrown out of safari vans to the local Maasai children who are in the grazing grounds around the outskirts of the park. As they shout “Sweet! Sweet! Sweet!” the tourists, who think they are giving kind-hearted gifts to the local children, are in actuality contributing to the growing prevalence of dental decay. The tourists do not understand that unlike in their developed countries, dental care, sealants, fluoridated water and basic oral hygiene necessities such as toothbrushes and fluoridated toothpaste are almost nonexistent. Whereas a small “sweet” treat may not pose any danger to the children in their country, it may be very dangerous in the mouths of the unprotected Maasai children.
1World 1Tribe feels prevention is the most effective strategy for the control and reduction in the demand for labour intensive and expensive curative dental services. Oral health and nutrition education is the cornerstone of our oral health program, alongside dental treatment camps. Through the support and guidance of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, 1World 1Tribe has launched several initiatives, from direct education in schools and local "manyattas", to partnering with the Kenya Wildlife Service rangers to inform tourists of the unintended harm they are doing, and to stem the very real public health crisis that has evolved.