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Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Lisburn woman help put a smile on the face of Kenyan villagers

Janice Hearn providing dental assistance

Janice Hearn providing dental assistance

A LISBURN dental assistant is travelling hundreds of miles across Kenya to bring smiles to the faces of Kenyan villagers living in remote communities.

Based at HMS Drake in Plymouth, Leadine Dental Surgery Assistant (LDSA) Janice Hearn is currently with 16 Close Support Medical Regiment, taking part in the Army's Exercise Sharp Point, to provide essential immunisation, primary health care, dental and veterinary care to villagers living in remote and inaccessible communities.

LDSA Hearne (27) is treating up to 40 people a day whilst her Army colleagues administer vaccinations and provide primary health care.

"I came into work one day and asked if I wanted to join the Army on Exercise and I thought why not, what a brilliant opportunity. I've always wanted to do aid work and I am glad to have this opportunity.

"I assist the dentist and clean up after each patient then discharge the clinical waste. I'm just like a civilian dental assistant.

"They can clean their teeth at the front using the twigs, but it's the posterior teeth that they find hard to clean and they are the teeth that are decaying. Obviously using a twig is not ideal, but that's all they know. It's the most basic form of plaque removal I have ever seen.

"The majority of the patients haven't seen a dentist in years; some have never seen a dentist and have been in a great deal of pain for months. One lady's lower wisdom tooth was causing her a lot of pain and after it was extracted she was waving her hands in the air with thanks. That was one of the most rewarding jobs we did."

Janice at work in Kenya Some of the children who came to Janice for dental treatment
Janice at work in Kenya Some of the children who came to Janice for dental treatment

Based in Plymouth, LDSA Hearne said her trip to Kenya made her grateful for what she had back home. "The villagers live in huts made of twigs and have to walk miles just to collect water and wood for their fires. We have hot water on tap, food on the table and showers.

"It's a beautiful country. The hardest part is the travelling due to the road conditions, but the scenery and wildlife make up for it. I've seen giraffes, zebras and baboons."

But its not all work. LDSA Hearne will spend a few days relaxing before returning home to the UK. "I'm going to have a go at white water rafting and spend a few days relaxing."

On completion of the exercise the Squadron will have visited 24 villages and treated over 5000 men, women and children.

Ulster Star