So, the journey started well, meeting Jeremy Bagg and Chris Cox at check-in which went smoothly with all Covid checks and baggage weights. After approx 8 hours we landed for a brief stopover at Addis Ababa, Ethiopian, the country that the coffee bean originated, so we had to taste it! Even had time to rest my leg whilst waiting for our flight to Blantyre.
Arrived at Blantyre and once we had been through the Covid tent (provided by the people of Iceland!) and paid our cash for visas, we were met in the baggage hall by Peter Chimimba, Maldent’s representative in Malawi and loaded up the car for our short trip to the hotel. Beautiful mountains in the background.
After meeting with Peter again, plus Wilson Mandala, University Principal, and James who is Maxio facial surgeon and head of the Dental Dept at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre.
Dentaid supplied and fitted out the dental department in 2013 but had fallen into disrepair in recent times.
After early breakfast and sorting out local phone SIMs with a man under an umbrella across the road for 45minutes, we were sorted and off to the University for meetings.
After a morning of two meetings in two different locations on the campus, we nipped back for soup and roll lunch, then back to the Uni to meet the dental students.
As you can see, Chris and I were dressed ready for practical work whilst everyone else was suited and booted!
We then found ourselves in the lecture theatre talking to students about Dentaid and why we were there. It was an emotional moment for us all as we saw 56 of the 70 dental students currently in training ( in years 0 to 3 of 5 currently).
There are only 54 dentists in the entire country, but this group represents the future and testament to the efforts of Jeremy and Maldent to create the first dental degree course ever in Malawi. Dentaid equipment has helped to make this a reality.
Finally we got to see the Dental Dept at QE Hospital and after lengthy introductions and a full tour, we were delighted to see that they were in the final stages of a significant refit which was largely locally managed with funds from UK, Norway and Germany – all the old Dentaid kit had been removed and replaced.
Finally we got to work, but on this occasion, fixing minor snagging issues. We got a dental light working which has not worked since the refit, we also fixed some dodgy wiring and an extension lead. I fixed some plumbing on one of the new chairs and rerouted pipes to enable flooring under a chair to be replaced (got soaked by a burst pipe in the process!!). They were thankful and amazed that we managed to sort these problems so quickly.
Blog written by Stuart Bassham March 2022.