CQUni students continue Smile Vanuatu volunteer work

Published:03 August 2015

CQUni students, past and present, continued their wonderful Smile Vanuatu volunteer work in June and July this year.

CQUniversity students, past and present, continued their wonderful Smile Vanuatu volunteer work in June and July this year.

The Oral Health team provided oral health education sessions at schools as well as clinical services to patients on Malekula Island in Vanuatu. 

The two teams, led by Christine Southall, consisted of 3rd Year Bachelor of Oral Health students Kate Vinnicombe, Katherine Brown, Vivian Lee and Natalie Corfield, and CQUniversity academic Dr Kelly Waters.

Ruby Wittkopp, a Bachelor of Oral Health graduate, also returned for her second Vanuatu trip.

"This year was very special as we visited Malekula Island (one of the main islands), as well as the tiny islands of Vao and Atchin," Dr Waters says.

"Atchin is the home of Dr Mackenzie, the resident dentist at Norsup Hospital, and Ephraime Evena, the main organiser of the expedition."

Dr Kelly Waters, from the first team, said that "on Vao and Atchin we saw approximately 700 children over four days in five schools".

"We were without mains electricity and hot water for the majority of our trip, but were warmed by the lovely islanders.

"The standard of living here is basic, but very comfortable. It was wonderful to see how happy and healthy children are when fed a natural, wholefood diet and without the distractions of technology.”

Talking about the second week of the trip, Katherine Brown said it was  "an incredible experience that exceeded any expectations I had".

"We screened 916 children over four days in three schools between four clinicians, and spent a day in Dr Mackenzie's dental clinic at Norsup Hospital completing treatment for the children.

"They were all so well behaved and friendly, it was such a pleasure to be there, even with no hot water and wake-up calls from roosters at 3am!

"I loved learning about their culture; it's such a simple way of life. It made me realise, to be happy, how much we really don't need.

"I really enjoyed working with Dr Mackenzie; he has such a gentle and respectful manner with his patients.

"It was lovely to watch and to see how well the children responded to him. I have gained so much from this trip, it was a privilege to be able to participate and I can't wait to return next year."

PHOTOS via or in the slideshow BELOW.