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
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 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.
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
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.
President 2017/18, Sheffield University Dental Students Society
Want to find out more about volunteering?
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