Our People: Michelle Reid
So what does Dental Mavericks mean to me? I never expected to end up as involved as I am now, from going on my first trip to Morocco and did two days of clinic, thought I’d maybe just go do that and then I’ve tied a life achievement box, done my charity work, didn’t think I’d necessarily go again. After my two days there, just absolutely loved it.
I can only kind of describe it as infectious, kind of gets under your skin, the work that you do while you’re there, the people that you meet and you work alongside. I really got the bug for it in those two days and I was gutted at the time to be going home when everyone was carrying on to do other clinics. I knew as soon as I came back then that this was something I was going to keep up doing.
I think that’s the thing about Mavericks, it’s big family of like-minded people who want to go make a difference to people who don’t have healthcare access like we do and a lot of other people do, but deserve it just as much as anyone else. And Mavericks provide that. They provide pain-free care. You know, they really take the time, get to know the people and the communities.
They don’t just go in, do their bit of work for a couple of days and then leave until they go back again in a year or so’s time. You know, really embed themselves in the community and try and make a permanent long-lasting difference, so leaving, as we say, a legacy, leaving almost the clinics in place and care plans, and hopefully educating the people that we treat as well as the people who work alongside them in all the various places in Morocco, in Greece, so that in Dental Mavericks’ absence, care can be provided by other people that might be there and able to facilitate it.
I can’t speak highly enough about the organisation, about the people. It’s just building faith in dentistry for communities that might not have any experience or faith in healthcare. As I say, education’s a huge part of it. You can’t just go in, take teeth out, fix teeth up, and not actually leave people with the tools and the information to care for their mouths in the meantime. Again, the people that you work with, I’ve made some great friends through my trips in Morocco and Greece.
As I say, everyone is very like-minded, everyone gets on. It’s a challenge professionally for people, I think. It was for me, and also personally, takes you a bit out of your comfort zone. You’re not working in your clinic that you have at home where you’ve got everything to hand and all your home comforts. It’s really basic dentistry and getting back to, you know, it’s all about caring, taking the time with people, communication is huge. Obviously, with language barriers, makes you really think about body language as communication, which we probably take for granted at home.
The welcome that you get from the people that you go to visit and treat and work amongst is just overwhelming. It’s really humbling. I remember becoming quite emotional in Morocco. Just the thank-yous and the gratitude of people after you’ve treated them, just is unbelievable. We work over here and people are scared to come to the dentist or are fearful of coming just because of the sort of stigma that’s attached to it.
Whereas, people are literally queuing out the door and down the street to get in to Dental Maverick clinics, to just receive some care that they really, really need. We witness people climbing under and over fences just to get in to get some treatment, and it just really brings you back down to earth and makes you appreciate what we have, and as I say, just makes you want to give all the more to people time-wise, money fundraising-wise.