Posted on 7th May 2019
A registered non-profit, charitable organisation in Australia, the Children’s Health Aid Team (CHAT) provides dental services to the underprivileged and disadvantaged children at orphanages, institutions and schools in Vietnam. Four trips are organised each year, with volunteers joining from all over Australia.
“Volunteers work together as a team, and aim to improve the overall oral health of these children by providing a range of treatment including fissure sealants, fillings, extractions, scale and cleans, periodontal treatment, pulpotomies, stainless steel crowns and root canal treatment,” says Dr Jennifer Chan, President of CHAT.
“CHAT strongly believes that the best way to prevent dental problems is through education,” she adds. “Every child that we screen goes through our Dental Health Education program and we hope that teaching them such skills will help them maintain healthy teeth and lead happier lives.”
The volunteers on these trips make a significant contribution, as Jennifer says the majority of the underprivileged children they treat live in rural and remote areas and have never had any access to dental care. “Most lack access to basic dental hygiene products as well as the knowledge to maintain their oral health,” she says. “Some have also been living with pain and infections for years. With the help of our volunteers, we can make a significant impact on the quality of their lives.”
Jennifer urges anyone considering volunteering to give it a go. “When I was a student, I decided against going on a CHAT trip because I thought it would make more sense to graduate and become a dentist before helping more people,” she recalls. “After I joined my first trip, I knew this is what I will spend the rest of my life pursing passionately.
“If you have always wanted to do volunteer work then this is your opportunity now,” she adds. “We need all the help we can get, and the children need all the help they can get. The conditions can be challenging as your knees will ache like they’ve never ached before, your back will ache like it has never ached before but in the end, it always feels worth it.”