In the rural areas of the Maasai Mara in Kenya, access to medical and dental care is often limited. Essential healthcare services, such as medical and dental care, are scarce. Lack of infrastructure, medical personnel, and resources further contribute to the challenges of providing adequate healthcare. Dr. Julie Spaniel of Summerwood Family Dental in Tigard founded her Non-profit, One World Brigades LLC, with a mission to provide free medical and dental care in remote regions of Africa. Moved by the lack of access to care, poverty, and inadequate education facilities, Dr. Spaniel has also helped to construct a primary school in the area. This Spring, Dr. Spaniel led a team to the border of Kenya and Tanzania, where One World could use her primary school to provide care for this community in need.
The One World Brigades team included two Kenyan physicians from Nakuru, Dr. Spaniel, and a Kenyan dentist with whom Dr. Spaniel frequently works every year. Six other volunteers from across the U.S., including Dr. Spaniel’s assistant at Summerwood, Alyssa Duckworth, provide various healthcare services.
The group brings over 1,000 pounds of supplies and equipment for two weeks of clinics. After landing in Nairobi and getting a good night’s sleep, it’s off to Nakuru. Traveling along the East African Rift Valley is incredible and an area renowned for having the most flamingos. One notable stop along the way is Lake Nakuru, attracting thousands of flamingos. The group stays in Nakuru, where they will work for the week in clean but modest accommodations to keep the trip cost affordable. The supplies are organized for the opening clinics, and the team is ready to go!
One World Brigades joins Kenya Partners to provide Nakuru community members with four days of free medical and dental service. They work at the Betty Roberts Education Centre, founded by Dr. Spaniel’s family friend, for the first two days. Every child in the school received health education in skills such as hand washing and basic and oral hygiene. Children in need of dental services were treated by the team at the hospital clinic. In the second half of the week, the team moves to the nearby Wesley Mission Hospital. This small hospital, also part of Kenya Partners NGO, has a simple dental clinic set up for volunteer dentists. The team treated over 1000 adults and children between the community and school members in four short days!
It is now time for a well-deserved break! The group sets out to cross the Great Rift Valley in a Safari Landcruiser with a separate supply and equipment van following. They are off to the Zebra Plains Lodge at the edge of the Maasai Mara National Park. Three days and two nights of safari are just what this team needs to re-energize for the next week’s clinics. Rising early to see the giraffe silhouette at sunrise, sitting in the middle of a herd of Elephants, watching the babies mimic their mother eating, and observing the lions crouch as they stalk their nearby prey are just a few of the unbelievable experiences on safari. Kenyan sundowners on the plain, sitting in front of a fire, and watching the nearby zebras, gazelles, and giraffes are a few sights they enjoy while eating a 5-star meal in an open-air tent. This group came to serve those in need. It is easy to see how so many people come to this beautiful country for a safari and miss out on the community experience. The goal of One World Brigades’ trip to Kenya is to allow the volunteers to be emersed in the culture by engaging with the people and also see the magnificence and beauty of the animals on this land.
The second week of service is in a rural area outside Lemek, Kenya, in the Great Rift Valley on the border of Tanzania, at the Gilisho Freedom Academy School, which One World Brigades helped build. Spaniel has raised money for the water project for the school by digging at a water source and installing a solar-operated pump and two holding tanks to provide clean water for the children. The small four-room school serving Pre-K to third grade will soon expand to the fifth grade. There are plans for gardens irrigated by the new water system, Tilapia ponds, and future farm animals to provide food security for the children and families at the school.
Turning the small school into a fully functioning clinic, the team set up triage to gather patient information, height, weight, blood pressure, and chief complaint. From there, the patients can see physicians, dentists, or both. People walk and get rides on motorbikes and come from all over the area. One World Brigades is able to treat over 600 people in this four-day clinic. They don’t leave until every patient is seen!
Spaniel plans to have a One World Brigades Fundraiser on October 19, 2023. For more information on how to volunteer for the March 22 – April 6, 2024 trip, to help support the school, or assist in fundraising, check out the website at OneWorldBrigades.org or contact Dr. Spaniel at Summerwood Family Dental in Tigard.