It’s less than 3 weeks until the first team of the year hits the sunny shores of TL, and it’s already shaping up to be a busy 2 weeks. Team 1 consists of only 3 people this year – Dr Blanche Tsetong, Dr Mary Tuituinnik, who has been a long-standing supporter of the program, and has attempted to volunteer with us twice before, but has still yet to set foot on TL soil (third time lucky!); and another newbie, dental assistant extraordinaire, Mrs Yvette Young.
As usual, the team will be laden with all manner of materials destined for our own program, as well as for the clinics in Maubisse Hospital and Gleno Hospital. The dental clinicians that we support have all put in their requests for much-needed materials and equipment. Some things are easier to obtain than others – Armando and Ricardo’s request for needles and filling materials is much easier to attend to than Tino’s request for a headlight! But we do our best! As the time draws nearer, some of the committee members are scrambling to source much needed items – Dr David Sheen has been trying in vain to contact a supplier in India to obtain autoclave seals, and Dr Wayne Pearson is attempting to track down a suitable storage container for our suction unit, as well as Tino’s headlight. Thanks guys!
Many exciting things are happening this year. Our program has been on the lookout for several years for a Timorese dental therapist that we can employ full-time – someone who is not subject to the whims and vagaries of the Health Dept of TL. We have had some good news – our friend, Dr Fernando, thinks he has found us someone who will fit our requirements – a newly graduated Timorese dental therapist, who we will be meeting for the first time this trip. We will be subjecting him to a trial by fire – hope he doesn’t crack!
Another bit of good news is that Maubisse Hospital has recently employed a new dentist! Dr Inda Zulmira Dias is from Los Palos and studied in the Phillipines. This is exciting because for a program to be sustainable, it requires local ownership – now that Maubisse has 2 dental therapists and a dentist, they will be the ones doing the driving! Hence, another task for Team 1 is to collaborate with Dr Inda, Armand and Ricardo to establish how best we can support them in the future.
Between our school and community oral health workshops, clinical and teaching duties and meetings, meetings and more meetings, these are going to be 3 very busy girls! Bring it on!