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Dental Volunteers for Israel

Dr Satinder Matharu (top) a specialist in endodontics at EndoCare in London and British Trustee for Dental Volunteers in Israel talks about the charity and explains how it goes above and beyond to help those in need.

The story behind Dental Volunteers in Israel is truly inspiring. In 1947, Holocaust survivor Trudi Birger arrived in Israel and vowed to help those who couldn’t access necessary healthcare – especially immigrants. While working with underprivileged children Trudi quickly realised that this vulnerable segment of society had no way to get dental care.

Fast forward to 1980 and Trudi set up Dental Volunteers for Israel (DVI) a non-profit organisation that provides comprehensive dental care to impoverished children, Holocaust survivors, and the elderly, regardless of race or religion and all without charge. She found premises in Jerusalem and a dental clinic was set up with help from friends and contributions from dental supply companies.

The charity is open to all, which means we treat Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, Jews and African refugees. Following the recent events in Ukraine, we’ve also started treating Ukrainian refugees who have come to Israel to avoid the conflict in their home country.

I became involved with DVI following a recommendation from a colleague, Dr Linda Schaller, who has been a volunteer at the clinic for many years and persuaded me to join her in providing endodontics to those in urgent need of treatment.

I had no idea what to expect, but realised from the outset that the DVI clinic provides outstanding dental treatment to children and young adults, all of whom are immensely appreciative of the care that volunteers provide. I am just a small part of the solution in dealing with dental pain and helping people love their smiles again.

Jerusalem is a diverse melting pot of religions, ethnicities and people from different walks of life, and there is poverty here. Improving the dental health of people in need goes a long way towards increasing their self-confidence, helping to bolster academic success and to become more valued in the wider community.

DVI’s patients are referred by social workers from municipal welfare services and organisations such as domestic violence shelters, girls’ orphanages, youth-at-risk programmes, and organisations supporting children who have been removed from their familial home.

Amazingly, the clinic remained open throughout the pandemic, and, as overseas volunteers were not able to visit, patient care was continued by local dentists and resident students.

Executive Director Dr Roy Petel, a professor of paediatric dentistry, recruited help from Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv School of Dental Medicine, The Galilee Medical Centre and Tel HaShomer/Sheba Medical Centre which began sending their residents to work in the clinic.

In 2019 DVI had 140 volunteers from 19 different countries allowing dentists from around the world to share best practices; and during 2020 it still had 59 volunteer dentists. These included specialist endodontists, paediatric dentists and prosthodontists along with general dental practitioners.

Over the past 5-10 years DVI has become a pathway for Palestinian and Arab Israeli dentists, who often hail from low-income and under-served communities, to access further dental skills through its Arab Advancement Program. Volunteering at DVI for a few years is also a way to gain acceptance onto specialisation programmes and employment.

Due to the generosity of previous donors, from 2018 to 2020 DVI trained five Palestinian and Arab dentists annually and helped advance their careers. In March 2020 when the pandemic meant foreign dentists could not enter Israel, the training programme tripled in size.

Adding another string to its bow, the clinic has been running a free denture project for the elderly in Jerusalem. London’s Sobell Foundation has supported this project for years and The Kennedy Leigh Charitable Trust was one of the project’s first supporters. Originally launched as a pilot scheme, this has now become permanent with the creation of an in-house denture lab that opened in June 2022.

The clinic continues to work cost-efficiently as there is no state funding and treats increasing numbers of patient while also providing training, like most charitable organisations. This on-going support includes financial aid, materials and equipment through volunteers as well as donations.

Luckily, many supporters have stepped in to help – for example, during the pandemic when the increased cost of PPE was not budgeted for, Alpha Omega London funded the entire PPE cost in 2020. The dental community as well as society at large enables the clinic to continue its vital work free of charge.

I have found working at the clinic to be not only spiritually rewarding but also great fun. I’ve made good friends with fellow professionals, including dental nurses, administrative staff and colleagues from around the world.

For me, the greatest pleasure is that I get to value the gratitude of our patients and cherish the appreciation they show for the time and effort the volunteers put into their work. Helping people brings its own rewards, and DVI goes to great lengths to ensure that everyone receives the care they need.

You can find out more about the work of the DVI and get involved by visiting the DVI website https://dental-dvi.org.il/

You can also make a donation here https://system.smartgiving.org.uk/charities/12454

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

See the original article here: Dental Industry Review