Smiles in Malawi

In September Nigel and Vicky Milne, a husband and wife team from The Hollies Dental Practice in Dunoon, flew out to Malawi to join John in Mzuzu to have a look at the existing dental services and assess what is needed in the 3 sites at Ekwendeni, Embangweni and Livingstonia.

In Ekwendeni they found a previously used surgery now filled to bursting with worn out and useless equipment. It took them 3 days with the help of Catherine Smith, a Raven Trust volunteer from Blantyre, West of Scotland to clear, clean and organise the surgery so that they could spend the next few days seeing patients. They found that every person they saw had a dental problem but due to lack of proper suction, drills, tools and materials they could only carry out the simplest of treatments.

In Embangweni, where they only spent a day, they found a similar situation. In Livingstonia at the David Gordon Memorial Hospital they found a working surgery manned by 2 clinical officers who were able to extract teeth for patients needing this treatment. Their sterilisation procedures were badly lacking but with the help of a local electrician they were able to set up an autoclave so that now their instruments are at least sterile. They also went out to a couple of rural clinics and looked in a lot of mouths finding the same situation – a lot of untreated dental disease.

The overall situation is pretty dire and so Nigel and Vicky have returned to Scotland determined to try to make a difference. With the help of the Raven Trust they have set up a project called Smileawi. They have set down the following objectives – to relieve pain and carry out basic dental treatment; to equip, upgrade and maintain the 3 surgeries; to recruit, train and support dental staff at the 3 centres to create a sustainable service; to implement and ensure best practice; to provide toothbrushes and toothpaste; to supply 3 portable dental units for remote clinics; to encourage UK dentists to visit on working holidays and to collect donations of money and dental resources at the Hollies to support these objectives.

Nigel and Vicky would like to thank John, Catherine, Peter, Bob, Jan and Brendan for making their stay in Malawi so rewarding. They felt welcomed and supported throughout their trip and are now committed to moving forward and making a success of Smileawi. Nigel and Vicky can be contacted at or check out their Facebook page Smileawi.