Students experience dentistry in a Transylvanian orphanage

1 May 2012

October 2011 saw Dr Eszter Kalotay combine her fourth annual visit for voluntary work at the Saint Francis Foundation with an invitation to three BDent 3 students, Andy Lam, Chris Xu and Shannon He, and one BDent4 student, Judy Liu, to join her in the Transylvanian orphanage for their elective placement program.

Dr Kalotay says 'upon my return to Transylvania I noticed how much the children have grown also that their number has dramatically increased to nearly 2300. Among the familiar faces there were many new ones. This year was also special as it was the first time that 4 students from the University of Sydney Faculty of Dentistry joined me on part of the journey.'

This was an opportunity for students to improvise byworking under less then optimal conditions and help people in dire need by caring for their dental problems, often in extreme pain, restoring not only badly damaged teeth but also raising self-confidence. Our students provided assistance to people never having had any dental treatment in their lives due to the extreme poverty from which the Foundation lifts them.

The main aim for the first few weeks was pain control, overcoming the fear of the unknown, and empower compliant, happy patients.

The students' attitude towards the children was unbelievable, immediately making friends. There were many sad faces when they left because apart from the dental treatment, a common language was found and bonds formed that will be long remembered for all concerned.

As Hungarian is the official language at the Foundation, our students learnt a minimum of Hungarian words and expressions. At times a lot of the work was carried out into the night and included restorations, examinations, extraction, fissure sealants and RCTs and OHI, but prevention sometimes comes too late. The treatments carried out by the students was of course limlted to their capabilities under strict supervision.

Reflects Shannon He, 'Volunteering in Transylvania has been an unforgettable experience. The children and staff at Saint Francis Foundation are inspirational in their fight to overcome life's difficulties and make the most of what is available. My time in Deva has taught me to cherish everything we take for granted back home, and equipped me with valuable skills to work in an environment where resources are limited. I am indebted to the Foundation and Dr Kalotay for providing me with this valuable opportunity that has most definitely broadened my outlook on life.'

Grateful thanks was extended by Father Csaba, President and Founder of the Foundation, to Judy, Andy, Chris and Shannon for their very hard work... and there was also some time for sightseeing, as Father Csaba showed off some of the most beautiful areas of Transylvania.

Says Dr Kalotay proudly, 'I would like to express particular thanks to the ADA and the many industry colleaguesfor their generous donations and support for which I am truly grateful. Three months is a long time with such a high demand. Just a closing happy thought I'll be back again the end of October 2012'.

Contact: Denise Fischer

Phone: 02 9351 8300

Email: 0a265c014123412e5b3a501d5259112b1f08022a036333293e1b2b1b