Makindu Dental Clinic is a reason to smile
The story of the Makindu Dental Project, which ranks among the most successful initiatives supported by Maidenhead Rotary Club, was brought right up to date by two of its key supporters this week.
The club’s guest speakers were Rotarian Gurdip Bahra and his son Jasdeep, a dentist who has volunteered at the project. Their family is the driving force behind the initiative, which provides free dental treatment to people living in remote Makindu, Kenya, where the pair have strong family connections.
Unlike the UK where there is one dentist for every 1,500 people, in Kenya the figure is one dentist for every 40,000, most of them practicing in major towns.
Based at the Makindu Sikh temple, dental clinics are now held every fortnight offering a wide range of treatment together with education in oral health and hygiene. The project began in 2005 when a hospital block was added to the temple and started offering free dental clinics provided by Gurdip’s brother in law, Dr Parvin Jandu - a dentist in the capital, Nairobi, and another dentist, Dr Joseph Nduati.
The initiative was supported by Maidenhead Rotary Club and, after visiting, Gurdip was determined to provide extra help. In the summer of 2007 two dental camps were held. About 450 patients were treated but limited facilities continued to mean treatment was kept mostly to extractions.
However, the initiative was adopted as a quadrilateral project by the Rotary club which meant funding could be provided for two new dental units which were officially opened by Gurdip and fellow Rotarian Frank Knowles in 2009. That year also saw a four-day dental camp with 525 patients treated by a team of dentists from Gurdip’s family in the UK and others from Kenya.
Since then two new dental units have been added to the project, which now treats about 1,600 patients a year. Free food and accommodation is provided by the Sikh temple to the dentists who travel great distances for each fortnightly clinic.
Strong links have also been forged with the University of Nairobi Dental Hospital, which uses the clinics for training undergraduates.
Despite being forced to close temporarily due to Covid-19, the clinics are once again running fully.
Dr Jandu was presented with a Paul Harris Fellowship Award by the club when he visited the UK several years ago. And during a trip to Makindu in December, Gurdip was able to also present the award to Dr Nduati, who has never missed a clinic since the project began.
While the Rotary club continues to provide some financial support, most of the funding for the clinic is raised by Gurdip’s family through events such as Maidenhead Boundary Walk.
The project offers incredible value for money – running costs are £2,953 a year which works out at £1.84 per patient.
Thanking Gurdip and Jasdeep for their inspiring talk, club president Martin Trepte said: “This is an amazing initiative that is the very heart of Rotary and has grown into a project that makes an enormous and often life-changing difference to people who would otherwise have no help.
“While the club is proud to be a supporter, the driving force behind it is the Bahra family. It is an enormous achievement and a testament to your vision and dedication to public service that it has thrived and grown into the success it is today.”