Boaz Jardel Batwa outreach
The Batwa, originally forest dwellers, who survived on hunting and gathering within the forests were thrown out by government and partners when the conservationists came calling. This led to Batwa people living in impoverished communities close to the forests. These communities are located so far into the countryside that travelling there posed the greatest challenge to our field clinic activities. The communities are very isolated, the roads heading there very bad, the terrain rugged, and very little to no commerce. This led to most vehicles we could hire just turning us down and simply refusing our offer. Most of the these communities are in a range of 70-100km from Kabale town.
That said, we were able to reach there and I want to thank AICM staff and community workers for their incredible mobilization skills and getting us into a position where we just had to set up and start work very fast.
Day 1 was in a place called Murambo in Butanda sub county, we travelled for about 2.5 hours and then carried our equipment on head to the community where the vehicle could not reach. The clinic was held under a shade constructed by AICM near the Batwa settlement. Hundreds of people turned up and were happy to have the service. We had 96 extractions, 7 scalings and 14 fillings in this place. We registered 234 people including children who attended the oral hygiene talk and each of them walked away with a toothbrush and a toothpaste.
The second clinic was held in Ryamihanda in Ikumba sub county close to Bwindi forest on the northern border. This was a mixed community with many folks who stay close to the Batwa settlement attending our clinic.
The small town of about 300 households surrounded by hills on all sides provided most of the people. We were told the nearest dental clinic to this area is in Kisoro district on the other side of the forest which would be over 60 km of winding rough road around the forest.
More than 300 people turned up to this clinic. We worked until we run out of supplies. 171 extractions, 24 fillings and 10 scalings were done. We gave out a full carton of toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Day 3 was another all Batwa settlement in Murubindi, Bufundi sub county in the south close to the border with Rwanda. Located on the outskirts of Echuya forest on the border with Kisoro district, this settlement is isolated, and the extension worker here looks out for the Batwa as if they were his own children in an extended family.
We did 68 extractions, 5 scalings and 9 fillings. In all, 132 people turned up and all had toothpaste and toothbrushes.
I want to thank my team for the really daunting task they undertook. This was no ordinary dental outreach and it tested our resolve to the limit. I want to thank Ambrose, Glory, Andrew, Tracy, Ronald and myself for all the efforts, hard work, and the never give up attitude that was demonstrated. Thanks to AICM for organizing this, mobilizing and caring for the Batwa people and taking us down there. We learnt a few new things about the affairs of indigenous people. Thanks to Dentaid for sponsoring this event and always looking out for the dental health of the vulnerable. We are grateful. This was unlike any other and a special learning experience.
Written by Boaz Jardel – Dental professional