On September 15th, 2018 Dr Ian Gurner will be returning to Soe, West Timor for two weeks for his fourth trip as part of a volunteer dental team from Australia. The team included a number graduating dental hygiene students from Newcastle University in NSW. They will spend two weeks in remote West Timor providing basic dental treatment and education to local villagers, two orphanages and a refugee camp. Check out the pictures from previous trips below.
His past trips are always been eventful with stories that make you laugh and gasp.
- The time when Indonesian customs confiscated much of the donated medicine and medical equipment they had
- When one of the dental hygiene students was stopped and quizzed by customs as to why she had 80 tubes of toothpaste in her luggage
- When two bags of medical equipment were not picked upon arrival. No one realised until they reached Soe. This meant a mad 6 hour round trip dash back to the airport at midnight where luckily they were holding the bags.
The local villagers, both adults and children, have severe levels of gum disease and rampant tooth decay. Many of the adults also chew betel nut which causes black staining on their teeth. The dental hygiene team will be hard at work cleaning teeth and educating the villagers about good oral health practices. The children also get a performance of the tooth brushing song with the help of their interpreter Dolly. Dr G will be extracting teeth that cannot be saved from both adults and children. He is always amazed at how resilient the kids are. Many have a number of teeth removed with no complaints and very few tears.
The team often will work outside under the trees with the patients holding a basket of tools in their laps. The conditions are far from ideal but they provide a vital service that the villagers have no other opportunity to receive.