There is a huge need for dental care in refugee camps across Europe. Since last June Dentaid volunteers have worked in many refugee camps to provide emergency treatments and oral health education.
Dentaid currently has volunteering opportunities in Lesvos, Samos and Thessaloniki.
In Lesvos we run a dental clinic in one of the kitchen areas of Moira Camp where there is electricity and water. We have a Dentaid portable chair, hand instruments and a pressure cooker to sterilize. The camp has a mixture of nationalities who live in separate areas. Children and vulnerable people stay in a separate area within the camp but are also seen by Dentaid volunteers.
In Samos Dentaid has a small clinic inside Samos Camp with lighting, electricity, water and a sterilizer. Our teams treat several patients a day in this clinic including women and children who are currently housed in hotels but visit the camp for dental treatment. We also work with various other organizations on the island to provide oral health education outside of the camp.
In Thessaloniki Dentaid volunteers have worked in 15 different refugee camps. However more clinics are now taking place in warehouses, hotels and other buildings.
The equipment is basic and conditions can be tough but you’ll be rewarded with a warm welcome and have the chance to provide pain relieving dental care for people who really need your help. Many of the refugees had first class dental treatment in their home countries.
Volunteers will triage, treat and provide aftercare for the refugees. Some patients will require extractions and some refugees have developed complex dental problems since leaving their homes.
Our volunteers also receive requests for scaling and polishing and restorative dental treatments.
You will also treat children and Dentaid will seek every opportunity to provide oral health promotion and toothbrushing programmes once the refugees’ immediate dental needs have been met.
Volunteers in Thessaloniki will need to register with Dentaid and our partners and ground co-ordinators Health Point Foundation who will give your details to the Greek authorities to ensure you can gain access to the camps.
The refugees come from many countries including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Algeria and Libya. They have arrived in the camps after fleeing war, persecution, poverty and violence. They are very grateful that British dental professionals are willing to give up their time and use their skills to help them. Applications from volunteers who speak Farsi and Arabic are especially welcome although this is not essential.
A Dentaid trip leader will lead all trips to Lesvos and Samos and HealthPoint Foundation ground co-ordinators run the Thessaloniki trips.
Although life in the refugee camps is very hard, we have found them to be well organized and safe places to work. Many refugees are keen to translate and want to help the clinics run smoothly. Volunteers of all different nationalities give their time and skills to help in this humanitarian crisis providing clothing, food, hot drinks, medical help and shelter for refugees but very few dentists have been to the camps and there is a huge demand for treatment.
Since last June, 135 Dentaid volunteers have provided dental care for more than 4,600 refugees during 35 trips to Greece.