'The workload was immense and difficult at times' says Carmel Aliano (front row, left). But In spite of 'language barriers, power failures and the occasional lack of water, we managed to keep the surgery running.' Carmel, who is Practice Manager at Plenty Valley Community Health, has recently returned from Vietnam, completing her third trip with the Rotary Australia-Vietnam Dental Health Project.
Having worked with a team of talented dentists in two of Vietnam's regional provinces (Phu Giao Binh Duong and Ca Mau), Carmel is now sharing her experiences, and encouraging more dental professionals to join in too.
'The working day starts at 7.00am, and there is barely a day where work is less than 10 hours long.' The conditions are trying, Carmel says, but 'team solidarity, a positive attitude, and the children’s appreciation make each hard-worked day worthwhile.'
Carmel says another reason she continues to return to Vietnam is the unparalleled hospitality the team receives. 'The whole team was welcomed with open arms into the communities we work in. Every time, close bonds are formed with all the patients, even in such a brief period of time.'
The Rotary program, which is organised by experienced volunteer dentist Dr. Jamie Robertson, brings together dentists, dental specialists, dental assistants and oral health therapists from across the country. Carmel says working with people who not only sacrifice their time, but also spend months preparing and fundraising for the trip is inspirational.
Carmel is already looking forward to going back to Vietnam. 'I’m looking forward to be able to participate again, and I encourage any person in the dental field to do the same,' she says. 'Not only is it an experience that will push you to your limits professionally, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences I can think of.'
To find out more about the Rotary Australia-Vietnam Dental Health Project (RAVDH), contact Jamie Robertson at email@example.com.
Last updated: 2014-05-06