SCHOOL ORAL HEALTH PROMOTION: 2018 & 2019
The original groundwork that formed the vision for Gogos Give Smiles was done back when Humble Smile provided dental students the opportunity to experience the challenges and transformation that are part of international missions.
The first location was in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
King Makhosonke II and Princess Agnes invited Humble Smile to the Ndebele Kingdom for the purpose of “improving oral health integration in education and basic health care systems“. The International Association of Dental Students answered the call, and dental students, a dental hygienist, photographer, public health and project management professionals, flew in to SA from 10 different countries.
Three days were spent fact-finding in 5 schools and some homes. The team was joined on these visits by representatives of the MoE and the Kingdom. At each school information was gathered on the school infrastructure and school body. 68 school students were interviewed with a WHO survey plus a brief clinical examination, to learn of their circumstances and needs.
Considering the amount of sweet foods and beverages consumed by the children, they had surprisingly less tooth decay than the national average –probably due to fluorosis. The community and schools were highly cooperative because of their misconception that the kids’ oral health status was poor due to the “staining”, “neglect” (no dentistry available) and poverty.
On the home and school visits we discovered the Gogos – the grandmother caregivers of the children. Strong, independent, loving, and articulate, the Gogos are organised, have missions, and a vision to help each other, their families and their communities. They are dominant both at home (because most of the parents are not around) and at schools (where they control the School Governing Bodies).
A collaboration with the Gogos was formed based on Humble Smiles upport for their needs while they carry out the task of supervising tooth brushing and controlling diet at the schools. The team expressed hope that the collaboration will be an opportunity for Africa to show its beautiful and important traditions-humbling and inspiring so-called 1 stworld communities to improve their own family lives.
A3-day model, for implementation at each school, was designed and tested. Day I –Investigation-to learn about the school & kids’ OH status. Day II –Workshop – to build relations, educate and empower the Gogos to promote oral health in the school (advocacy) and at home(confidence in their traditional foods and remedies). Day III –Field -to set up tooth brushing stations and other preventive activities at school.
Results of evaluations were promising.100% of the Gogos indicated: The workshop prepared me for helping in the school the next day, and; the in – school program was successful in introducing new habits in the school routine. 90% of the volunteers stated they would definitely recommend volunteering on a similar project to a friend.