Helping refugees to smile again

Cammila Omair, right, and colleague Debbie Coyle with one of their young patients at the refugee camp in Greece.
Cammila Omair, right, and colleague Debbie Coyle with one of their young patients at the refugee camp in Greece.

A dental nurse from Motherwell has been helping to provide emergency treatment for refugees at a camp in Greece.

Big-hearted Cammila Omair and colleagues brought supplies of toothbrushes and toothpaste for families who’ve been denied basic dental care for months.

It was an eye-opening experience for the team who learned about the trials and tribulations of refugees whose lives have been turned upside down after fleeing war-torn Syria and other countries.

The trip made such an impression on Camilla that she is determined to return to Greece next year to continue the good work.

Cammila, a senior nurse with Scottish Dental Studios in Carluke, had been keen for some time to do voluntary work and jumped at the chance to enlist with Dent Aid, an organisation which sends treatment teams to some of the world’s poorest countries.

She said: “It was a really busy few days. We would spend all day with patients, extracting teeth, doing fillings or simply offering oral hygiene advice, and then in the evening walking back through the camp we’d stop to spend time with the refugees.

“We spent hours talking to them about their journey and experiences. Seeing a refugee camp in real life is much different from what you see on television.

“You realise these refugees are people just like us who had good jobs and homes before they left their country. There are doctors, engineers, people who have their own business - all sorts of people. It’s easy to think of us being in their position.

“The conditions they’re now staying in are not great. Some of them have been in the camp for as long as eight months and they haven’t had access to dental treatment.

“They were extremely grateful for supplies of tootbrushes and toothpaste which were donated by various practices.”

Cammila campaigned to raise money to cover her travel costs to Greece and is grateful to everyone who supported her.

She and colleague Debbie Coyle intend to return to Greece in May and before that Cammila will be volunteering her services nearer home, helping homeless people in Edinburgh.

Dent Aid’s Andy Evans said: “Many refugees are suffering from appalling dental pain and have been for many months. They are so grateful when they finally get to see a dentist. Our volunteering teams of British dental professionals are doing a fantastic job.”