The volunteers will arrive in Dar es Salaam on February 17, 2007. After a short adjustment period they will travel to the small city of Sumbawanga to begin their volunteering assignment. In Sumbawanga, Dr. Ehtessabian will volunteer at a local government-funded dental clinic staffed with 2 hygienists, evaluate its setup, and implement ways to make the clinic more efficient in its service of Sumbawanga residents and the residents of neighboring cities. Jennifer will either assist Dr. Ehtessabian as a Dental Assistant or will provide HIV education to the community. In Sumbawanga, Dr. Ehtessabian’s primary concern is up-to-date sterilization given the high incidence of HIV in Tanzania.
Following their stay in Sumbawanga, the volunteers will travel to Mpanda, a city that is a few hours north of Sumbawanga. Mpanda will present additional challenges as it is significantly more rural than Sumbawanga. While the assignment in Mpanda is slightly less clear, Dr. Ehtessabian expects to perform more emergency procedures like extractions.
Dr. Ehtessabian is well positioned to make valuable contributions to the residents of Sumbwanaga. After graduating from dental school in June 2005, Dr. Ehtessabian acquired clinical experience as a general dentist in Iowa for 6 months (Pine’s Family Dentistry) and as an Associate Dentist in Missouri for 1 year (Advanced Dental Care, Inc.). In addition, Dr. Ehtessabian is licensed in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Non-Intravenous Conscious Sedation. Dr. Ehtessabian is also in the process of earning a fellowship through the Academy of General Dentistry.
When asked why he wanted to volunteer abroad, Dr. Ehtessabian replied “I wanted to go somewhere where we can do the most good”. Dr. Ehtessabian is no stranger to international dental volunteering, having volunteered in Jamaica for 2 weeks while in dental school. While in Jamaica Dr. Ehtessabian mainly performed extractions and attempted to set up a denture labratory. Dr. Ehtessabian considered it a privilege to provide care to people who didn’t have access to it. The fond memories Dr. Ehtessabian had of his experience in Jamaica fueled his desire to repeat the experience, on a larger scale, in Tanzania.
When considering options to volunteer abroad, Dr. Ehtessabian quickly chose DentalVolunteer as it was one of the few non-profit organizations that listed dental-specific volunteering opportunities. He also found the organization’s staff to be very enthusiastic, responsive, and helpful. HealthCare Volunteer is proud to support Dr. Ehtessabian and Jennifer Sanderson as they volunteer abroad and bring much needed healthcare to the citizens of Tanzania.
HealthCare Volunteer, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, was started in January 1, 2006 by an American dental and medical student, who realized the need for a free non-profit portal that connects all volunteers interested in health care to volunteering opportunities. Due to resource constraints, several national health care organizations rightfully chose not to undertake such a drastic project, and so the opportunity to unite health care volunteers globally remained. It was clear that an independent, 3rd party, non-partisan, non-governmental organization (NGO) unaffiliated with any country or entity needed to be formed to promote health care volunteering in a rapidly globalizing world.