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Using my dental skills to help others: volunteering in Argentina

Blog Author Ellen Johnson

Blog Date 07/08/2017

Ellen Johnson is the current President of Sheffield University Dental Students Society. She shares what it’s like to give up her time to volunteer to help disadvantaged children in Argentina with charity Todos Juntos.

How much charity work have you done since being accepted to study dentistry?

So often when applying, you go above and beyond to volunteer and help charities, then once you’ve got into dental school the charity work stops. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think being involved and aware of others and events around you is very important, especially as a health care professional. As a student I can’t give lots of money to charity, but what I can give is my time!

I was contacted by Todos Juntos in 2016 through a mutual friend for help as the charity were struggling with finding enough money to run the clinics. Since being involved I have helped in many ways and by chance it has helped me in return! I have improved my connections with other professionals in the dental field along with opening other career opportunities to me. It has been lovely to see all the photos and messages from the children that Todos Juntos helps and know that what I am doing is making a difference!

What is Todos Juntos?todos juntos ellen johnson 2.jpg

Todos Juntos Children’s Trust is a small grassroots charity which was formed as the result of one woman’s concern for the thousands of disadvantaged children living in and around Buenos Aires. The charity specialises in providing free dental care and oral hygiene sessions to the children in the slum areas of Argentina. Many of these children have never seen a toothbrush and only drink coke as it is cheaper and safer to drink than water.

Todos Juntos is one of the few charities specialising in free dentistry in the developing world. The Argentine government does very little to help these children whose life can be seriously impaired by their inability to smile with confidence. The charity works tirelessly with three qualified dentists to raise funds for the ongoing costs of three dental clinics.

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of money to keep these clinics up and running. The main costs include the dentists’ salaries and dental supplies. All admin staff work on a voluntary basis meaning that every penny raised goes directly to the clinics!

How far do you walk to go to the dentist? Children walk for miles to visit the clinics. The charity is in need of more help as demand is increasing as their reputation grows. This year around 7,000 children were treated and approximately 35,000 treatments were carried out.

What’s next?

The charity have come up with a fund-raising concept for the future, their aim is to encourage as many student dental societies as possible to become involved in supporting the charity.

As the President of Sheffield University Dental Students Society, at the annual BDA Presidents meeting in London, I was able to introduce Todos Juntos to all the other dental schools. The charity is delighted that it has been chosen as the charity for BDSA Charity Week.

A spokesperson for the charity said, “This is a great step in the right direction in securing future dentists to help and support us. We would also like to set up a National Committee which could incorporate representatives from each of the dental schools together with some eminent dentists and of course our board of Trustees. We would like to raise and maintain awareness of Todos Juntos for the future within the dental community.”

Therefore, my goal for 2018 is to have several student ambassadors from the different dental schools working with us to raise both money and awareness throughout the UK! If you are a current dental student and would like to get involved and help please get in touch with me.

todos-juntos-ellen-johnson-3.jpgEllen Johnson
President 2017/18, Sheffield University Dental Students Society



Want to find out more about volunteering?

BDA members can access our starting out resources including advice and information on volunteering, working abroad and alternative careers paths.

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