A Journey of Service and Adventure: Our Dental Camp Experience in Ghandruk

Reflections from participants relating to the successful dental camp conducted in March 2023.

We had six volunteers from Australia and New Zealand to support the dental camp. The group included two registered dentists from Australia. In addition, Dr Bibhor was contracted from Pokhara to assist. All these volunteers took time off from their respective dental practices or leave from work to undertake the camp.

The volunteers travelled from their respective states in Australia and New Zealand into Kathmandu and then journeyed on to Pokhara. From there they travelled by jeep to Ghandruk. Sometimes things don’t always go to plan, and due to a landslide on the road leading up to Ghandruk the jeep conveying all the volunteers and their equipment could not travel directly to the village. This required the passengers to walk part of the way to the village to their accommodation, while the luggage and equipment were delivered by porters to the clinic and accommodation. Our gratitude is extended to Raj Gurung who organised the porters and transport arrangements.

On the first day of the camp, various roles were assigned to the volunteers to assist the dentists with the running of the dental camp.  Fortunately, the group included registered nurses and participants who had taken part in previous dental camps, and most were familiar with undertaking basic clinical duties. This included sterilisation of equipment, triaging patients and supporting whatever was required by the dentist to complete the tasks, on the day.

On the first day of treatment, a vital piece of equipment broke down. Fortuitously, Dr Bibhor had the contacts in Kathmandu and was able to acquire the replacement equipment. Arrangements were made to have a new piece of equipment purchased in Kathmandu, to be delivered by air to Pokhara and then conveyed to Ghandruk by jeep and finally carried by a porter over the damaged road to the clinic.  Another challenge emerged when this unit was found to be faulty, and the whole process was repeated for a second time. The new upgraded unit was expensive and was part funded by donations from our volunteer dental team.

In the weeks leading up to the clinic, the surrounding villages were advised that the dental camp would be conducted over the advertised period. Many people in the outlying areas planned to attend the clinic on the various days allotted to them, some travelling many hours by foot to attend their dental appointment. For some it would be the first time they had seen a dentist. The support from the dental team and our local clinic staff, was a comfort for those in need of assurance, particularly the young children who felt insecure in that new situation.



Arrangements were made within the clinic accommodation to have designated areas for the dentists to conduct their work and another area was set aside for other clinical needs for the villagers. Early one morning a baby was born at the clinic. The mother was brought into the birthing suite for the delivery. Our volunteer dental team were able to give the baby some loving cuddles before mother and baby were transported home later in the morning by family members. All our volunteers brought various donations that could be handed out during the camp ie knitted dolls, clothing and books. Mother and baby went home with a bag of goodies and a donation of cash from our team to help the family.


On day seven of the clinic Doctor Bibhor had to return home to his practice in Pokhara. He was given a nice send off by the remaining team, clinic staff and members of the village. We were very grateful to him for getting the important equipment delivered in such a timely manner. Dr Bibhor has undertaken previous dental clinics and is well liked in the village.

Vice President John Guilfoyle and committee member Tina Stewart took the opportunity to visit Chhomrong where Rubina Gurung one of Sanjiwani’s nurses is stationed with a Nepalese government nurse. Our team were able to view the clinic operations and meet with key village members. The clinic is very well run and a credit to the staff. Funding permitted; we hope to be able to continue to support this clinic in Chhomrong. Thanks again to Raj Gurung for guiding the team to Chhomrong and organising overnight accommodation.


During the 11 days of the dental clinic 351 patients were treated. Treatment included 251 extractions, 217 fillings and routine check-ups. The dentists are always concerned with the number of extractions whenever dentists visit the village. This is largely due to poor dental hygiene, poverty, and lack of dental health knowledge. This is being addressed by the Sanjiwani team whenever they can speak to children at the schools or people visiting the clinic.

This dental camp and other previous camps in past years are only possible through the generous donations made to Sanjiwani Australia by our supporters and through the provision of dental supplies or equipment from dental supply organisations. Sanjiwani is also grateful for the dental practitioners who have taken time from their dental practises and our volunteers who have taken leave and travelled from their respective homes in Australia and New Zealand to provide this valuable service to Ghandruk and the surrounding area in Nepal.

Thank You Volunteers and our clinic staff for conducting a very successful camp.

Dr Bibhor Koirala: Dr Loc Lam and Dr Laura Pham. Helen Mell, Bettina Stewart, Anneke Vandertol, Shelly Voigt, and John Guilfoyle

Kamala Gurung, Sandhya Thapa, Suchita Thapa, Rubina Gurung, Govinda and Nissa.

Our Sincere thanks go to SDI and Dentsply Sirona who contributed generous donations of dental supplies and consumables for Dr Loc to take to Nepal.

And finally, much appreciation is extended to Dr Loc who at the end of the clinic visited CARG dental supplies in Kathmandu purchasing several dental items which she has donated to the Ghandruk clinic for future dental camps.