By Ali Allport
The Westgate Samburu Community in north-central Kenya received a unique set of visitors recently… in the form of an entire dental clinic.
Many of the rural areas in Kenya do not have a dental service, and in some instances, the only available dental treatment is provided by witch doctors. In Westgate, the nearest dentist is located in Isiolo town, which is at least a two-hour drive away or more than a full days walk. The Samburu have poor access to clean water and they use a twig from “the tooth brush tree” to clean their teeth.
To help bridge the gap in government health care provision, The Safari Collection is helping to facilitate access to medical facilities and health care for the Westgate Community with the assistance of SmileStar, a UK charity, founded by Mitesh Badiani. His vision is to provide free, quality dental treatment to as many people as possible, particularly remote disadvantaged communities where basic dentistry is not available.
For this clinic SmileStar brought a team of four highly skilled dentists, four dental nurses, a midwife, a general nurse and two support staff with them, all of who paid their own fares. Incredibly, they also brought all the dental equipment they needed from UK. We invited a Kenyan eye specialist and the community nurses to join the team, to provide more general outreach medical services.
Over the duration of the week the team saw no less than three hundred dental patients, extracting over 500 teeth in total. They gave away hundreds of toothbrushes and educated mothers especially on caring for their children’s teeth. We visited five different areas of the conservancy, giving optimal opportunity to all community members to attend for treatment.
The Sasaab lodge vehicles helped by going out into the surrounding villages to bring as many mothers and children and elderly patients to the clinic as possible. The eye specialist assessed 103 eye patients and identified 23 requiring surgical intervention and 4 children requiring referral to Nairobi. We plan to treat all those in the next few months.
Conservation and health care
Conservation will only ever be truly successful, if the communities understand the correlation between protecting wildlife and the tangible benefits they receive from living in harmony with and protecting Kenya’s wildlife. Our goal through our projects is to encourage communities to embrace conservation and help them seewildlife as an advantage and not a threat. In order to help us achieve this, Chis Lekupe the Westgate Community Manager and Yesilai one of the Ewaso Lions warriors came with us every day to talk to the community about the importance of conservation and tourism, while the clinic was being run.
Thank you to Sasaab Lodge for hosting us so warmly and for all their logistical support. Thank you also to Erick and Samuel who were our drivers and interpretors throughout the week. In 2015 we plan to run the Dental clinic again and extend it to include the Masai Mara – watch this space…
How you can help
THE SAFARI COLLECTION has established a comprehensive program of Community and Conservation Projects in the areas around their properties.
To support this event next year or for more information on helping with other projects please contact:
Alison Allport – [email protected]
For more information on our partners please visit:
EWASO LIONS www.ewasolions.org
KENYA WILDLIFE TRUST www.kenyawildlifetrust.org