100 helpers chew through dental work in Tara
TARA residents were all smiles on the Easter weekend after a troupe of volunteers arrived from Brisbane to fix their grins.
More than 100 volunteer dentists, nurses, dental students, technicians and other health professional from the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-Chi Foundation saw about 350 patients during three days.
The Tzu-Chi Foundation has been providing free dental care to Tara residents since 2007, after learning of the town's lack of a dentist.
Head dentist and medical team co-ordinator Jerry Wu said technicians worked around the clock and completed 50 dentures, more than double what they achieved last year.
"The technicians, they didn't sleep for the last two nights,” Dr Wu said. "Every- one wants dentures made so we do as much as we can.”
Dr Wu said it normally took two weeks to make a set of dentures.
Volunteers also drove to nursing homes and rural properties to see patients who would have otherwise missed out.
"As soon as we arrived we visited the nursing homes,” Dr Wu said. "We went there to check their teeth and if there's anyone who has urgent needs or concerns, we would book them in and treat them in the hall so we can do proper treatment.”
Tara resident Janice Watson, 76, came to the mobile dental clinic as a patient in 2007 and began volunteering the next year.
After her initial visit, she wanted to help out in any way she could as a way of giving back.
"I decided I'd come back and do what I could,” Ms Watson said.
Ms Watson said the invaluable service provided by the volunteers was greatly appreciated by the Tara community.
"It's so disheartening for people, they can't afford to go to a private dentist.
"So it's wonderful that they're here.”
She said it was heart-warming to see some of the same volunteers year after year.
"I'm welcomed like family,” Ms Watson said.
"In this day and age, it's almost unbelievable that people can be so nice.”