Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Relief Riders: dental camps

Relief Riders is bringing dental expertise to rural Cappadocian towns and villages.  Medical care in Turkey is quite good, but dental is not.  Announcements in the towns are played for two weeks on the radio, and word is spread through the haj, or imam, and the muhtar, the elected mayor. 

We have with us one dentist from Avanos in Cappadocia who conducts screening, and at a later date the patients will travel to Avanos to receive the treatment.  Our role as Relief Riders is to register the patients as they arrive, then usher them to a waiting room and call them as their turn comes. 

In between we socialise with them in our broken phrase-book Turkish and hand signals.  Often the children speak a bit of English.  We also have an invaluable translator with us, Cihat, a young man of 25 from the Turkish-Georgian border who studied English in İzmir and spent a year in Kansas City, USA.

We set up the dental centres in clinics or municipal offices, or whatever space the muhtar finds for us.  On this maiden Turkish tour our “fearless leader” Alexander, the founder, chairman and CEO of Relief Riders, wants to start out small and scale up in subsequent years.  In India, where Relief Riders has been operating since 2003 and treatment such as gynaecological and opthalmic care is provided in camp, staff see 200-300 people in a day.  In one record session they treated 869 people.  At our first dental camp in Saridir we saw 38 patients.

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