Fulfilment isn’t the only emotion you will feel when you volunteer on a dental aid mission, although it is the prevailing one.
Long hours of hard work start from the planning stages, when we recruit volunteers - core clinicians, nurses and therapists - and map out the logistics.
Over 200 orphans received essential dental treatment in our 2016 trip to Kashmir. Many of those children had never received treatment before, let alone visited a dentist. We also lent our services to two local schools for children suffering from blindness and hearing impairments.
Trips like this allow you to develop a sense of pride for what you do, especially when you see the smiles on their faces. Every now and then, however, there’s an itch of frustration for what you can not do for them and how much more you want to give but can’t.
I have been on dental aid missions to Kashmir and Palestine twice. We have also assisted in orchestrating trips to Greece and Gambia.
Charity is not a holiday, even when we go to these beautiful places. What I’ve gleaned from years of committing myself to this work is that giving back transcends the physical.
It is a holiday for the soul.
Dr Ferhan Ahmed