Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Imvelo Safari Lodges' Mobile Dentists Safari

Imvelo's 6th annual Mobile Dentists Safari was a resounding success!
Imvelo Safari Lodges' Annual Mobile Dental Safari, which provides relief to often desperate people from hundreds of villages around Hwange and Victoria Falls, has just been completed.

They treated their 10,000th dental safari patient in their sixth year, and administered their 25,000th dental procedure - all  in remote rural areas and challenging situations.

The team of highly motivated Spanish, Italian and Zimbabwean dentists and nurses, supported by a massive logistical effort from Imvelo Safari Lodges, was an unequivocal success. This year they had support from D3 Foundation (USA), Higher Life Foundation (Zimbabwe) and Smile is a Foundation (Spain), as well as from several private donors.

But the numbers don’t tell the whole, wonderfully inspirational story. Among the many other highlights from this year, here's a sampling:
  • 12-year-old Langton Ncube was reunited with Dr Fabio who had diagnosed him with a
    cancerous jaw tumor three years ago. Fabio then raised the funds in his home city of Verona for Langton’s successful treatment. At Sipepa on Day 7 when Fabio checked Langton’s mouth and gave him a dental ‘all clear’ along with his free toothbrush, there was not a dry eye in the examinations tent.
  • The optometry department kicked off last year when Pablo treated 221 patients, but this year with the addition of his colleague Alvaro through long days of diagnosis as well as nights of testing
    of diagnosis as well as nights of testing second hand spectacles, our optometry program expanded greatly and treated 1,256 patients with spectacles and sunglasses. Tears were common as literally hundreds of elderly people were able to read again for the first time in years.
  • When a young girl forced her way back in to give Dr Pablo two mangoes to thank him because with her new spectacles she would be able to learn to read and so return to school, everyone in the room ‘lost it.’ 
  • Elke, the German travel industry professional, was so inspired by dental safari stories that she went out and gathered close to 3000 pairs of used spectacles in the city of Wesel and arranged their complicated transportation to Zimbabwe for Pablo’s team. 
  • Last year our Elephant Express was a day-off recreational ride for the dentists. This year it was put to work ferrying the team after work at Lupote clinic from Dete to Bomani and then the next day both to and from Sipepa Hospital.
  • Gonzalo, Carlo and Laurena were three Spanish first-timers who dived into the grueling work schedule of Mobile Safari Dentistry like veterans. They were already in love with Zimbabwe when on their last evening they were awestruck and emotional seeing Nehimba’s gentle grey giants at very close quarters around our pool.
  • The uncomplaining Dentist Safari veterans who this year made short work of the waiting lines which in years gone by had intimidated us. 
The stories cannot be told without acknowledging the extraordinary efforts of the huge back room team from Imvelo that works tirelessly for weeks beforehand and then from 4 a.m. daily to make sure that the tons of paraphernalia required to mount this operation ranging from sandwiches and sodas to anesthetic cartridges and cotton gauze was in the right place at the right time. As well as the hundreds of patients who were transported in our buses from and back to the further reaches of the areas where we were working.

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