Another successful 'smile safari' with Imvelo Safari Lodges in Zimbabwe

The Imvelo Safari Lodges’ annual Dentists Safari started 5 years ago. The concept was to provide free dental care to the marginalised and disadvantaged village communities living around Hwange Park and Victoria Falls as a way to increase direct community benefits from tourism and conservation.

The program centres around a team of volunteer dentists from Spain and Italy who call themselves Sonrisas para Zimbabwe based out of, and supported logistically, by Imvelo Safari lodges.

This year's Mobile Dentists’ Safari kicked off from Bomani and then Camelthorn Lodges, where the team worked for two days performing miracles in the blazing heat at Kapane Clinic.

The numbers were staggering. In two days they treated 950 patients from the remote villages along the southern boundary of Hwange Park. On Day Three our heroes re-broke our own "World Record" by treating 580 patients in one day.

Our team also fed all the patients and then invited both the local schools for lunch on the second day - over a 1000 platefuls of sadza and beans were served at Kapane to the hungry.

Over 1000 toothbrushes were dispensed and every single child at both the Primary and Secondary schools were checked and treated as necessary, and received oral hygiene talks.

After work, the team took evening game drives on the Ngamo plain, having sundowners with Hwange's thirsty herds of elephant, and wonderful sightings of our three new lion cubs born to The Urchins pride.

The second stage of our Dentists’ Safari was based at Zambezi Sands from where our team set up a full day at Ndlovu Clinic to work their miracles for the Communal land communities in a 50 km arc around Victoria Falls. Here we had another huge day in the blistering heat. A total of 517 patients received dental care and another 31 were examined by the optometrists who dispensed spectacles on the spot if appropriate.  More than 200 dark glasses were also distributed, to protect eyes from harmful UV rays.  Water bottles were handed out to school kids and over 700 meals were cooked and served.

This year there has been a big swing towards saving as many teeth as possible and apart from hundreds of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste, today was the day the 'conservative' department really kicked into overdrive.  In their biggest day yet, nearly a hundred patients received treatment from the ‘fillings and root canal department’ of the mobile clinic; what a wonderful effort to save teeth!

Altogether 2500 patients were seen this year, taking the overall total since 2011 to 8379!