Opportunities to travel abroad are important not only to grow as a person but also to grow as a professional; to have a broader knowledge on how society and different lifestyles affect oral health. Of course, meeting new people and enjoying the landscapes are a plus.
It was interesting how I ended up going on a dental campaign this past July 2019. I was in my second year of studies, and I don’t think anyone would disagree that it’s a tough one! In the midst of everything else, I received an email from a friend from my local church, who was sharing an opportunity to go on a dental campaign in Moldova that was being organised by someone from Switzerland. I got excited just by the sound of it!
The campaign consisted of 15 days in Moldova, going to different villages to provide free dental treatment, especially emergency treatment, using a military truck which had room for two dental chairs.
As I have always had a special interest in dental campaigns and oral education, this opportunity was very appealing to me. And I felt it could be one of those unique chances we get in life so, I booked my flights without thinking much about details or my university timetable! I was lucky the latest worked out for me at the end.
University finished on 19th of July, so I flew the next day and joined the team for the last 9 days of the campaign.
It was hard work, I won’t lie. We were working Monday to Friday from 7am until 10pm, but it was worth it. The team consisted of 14 people, I didn’t know anyone that came to the dental campaign, except for one of the organizers, as we spoke by email before I joined – we became very close friends with everyone by the end of the trip!
I had the opportunity to assist a dental surgeon from Switzerland on procedures ranging from simple extractions to complicated ones such that of a retained canine tooth removed from the middle of the hard palate. It was amazing to see! I performed some simple extractions myself, under his supervision, as well as couple of root and surface debridement. I got to give a small lesson at a school on how to brush their teeth, too! Not to mention that I learned more about politics, religion and oral health in Moldova, and how they interact with each other.
Not everything was about working hard though. We also spent time on the weekends meeting new people, eating traditional food and delicious fresh fruits. We got to see some beautiful places such as a lake in Sărata-Galbenă and to ride Quad bikes around a small city; it was so much fun!
This trip will forever hold a special place in my heart! It showcased all the different areas I would possibly specialise in the future. I strongly recommend to everyone to take any opportunity to travel and do volunteer work abroad, especially if it is dentistry related or something that you would like to explore further. It can be overwhelming to go with people you don’t know and when you are very busy with university work, but these experiences are a worthy investment!