A North East dental team has returned from a successful charity mission where they helped improve the dental care of more than 80 Syrian refugees living in Greece.
Representatives from Queensway Dental in Billingham joined forces with the charity organisation Dentaid, in response to an urgent call for volunteers to help provide dental relief to people taking refuge in Thessaloniki.
As part of the dental mission organised by Health-point Foundation, Queensway Dental’s managing partner Dr Paul Averley, together with his daughter Maddie, an aspiring dentist, and dental nurse Jade Hand, visited the military-run refugee camps to deliver treatment and pain relief over a three day period.
Health-point Foundation carries out mobile and static dental relief work across the world. Its relief services are currently active in Greek refugee camps with the aim of making access to dental care across various camps easier for refugees.
Dr Averley, who facilitated the charity mission, said: “In order to carry out vital dental care, charities such as Dentaid are reliant on the experience of volunteers like me, Jade and Maddie as well as receiving general donations from the public.
“Not only was this a fantastic opportunity to be a part of the Dentaid trip to make a difference to those in need, it was a real eye-opener of what life is like for refugees. Conditions were very basic compared to what we are used to in the UK – with treatment taking place in either tents or shipping containers. Most people there had never seen a dentist before which meant the demand for our temporary clinics was high.”
The trio worked alongside volunteering translators who helped the patients and dentists to communicate. They translated Arabic to English and vice versa to ensure they were offering the best possible treatment for the patients.
Dr Averley, added: “We met some incredible people and heard heartbreaking stories but it was a very worthwhile experience and one that I am very grateful to have been a part of. It was fantastic to be able to support Dentaid to help develop their work into a better established outreach program.
Through the support of the local community and our patients, we hope to repeat our dental missions across Europe in the near future.”
Ola Hassan, Dental Lead for Health-Point Foundation, said: “The Queensway team was a wonderful addition to our charitable project out in the Greek refugee camps.
“By responding to our urgent calls for volunteers they ensured that many individuals were relieved of ongoing dental pain and I was inspired by the team’s sense of passion and drive to help all those they came across. They reassured their patients and managed to have them all smiling again by the time they left the clinic.
“We were extremely grateful for the expertise they brought to the project. Dr Averley continues to support our project by giving us advice and by connecting us with other individuals who are able to help in our efforts in providing dental relief for displaced individuals. I cannot thank Dr Averley, Maddie and Jade enough. We look forward to welcoming them back to the project in the future so they can continue their great work.”