I lived my days filled with new events, lessons and experience. Together with my supervisor and a group of 18 students, we went to Kahramanmaras City, where we spent a week visiting different places. The places that were scheduled for us to visit were Healthcare Center (for handicapped Children), Syrian refugees Camp, geriatric care and a village.
We spent the first day to get to know the city and each other. The group consisted of both dental- and nurse students from different cities in Turkey. We would cooperate and together we would complete each other as a team.
Behind Kahramanmaras City lies a wonderful history and the city is well known for its famous ice cream made of fine goat milk and wild orchid flower roots from the surrounding Mountains. Lets not forget to mention their tasteful bakava that we ate already the first day we were there. I really recommend you all to visit K.Maras City for its breathtaking nature and their ice cream.
This province, was named Maras until 1918, then it changed to Kahramanmaras. Kahraman, which means “hero” in Turkish, was added in reference to the bravery of the people of the city that stood up to the French occupation after the 1 World war. Kahraman, which means “hero” in Turkish, was added in reference to the bravery of the people of the City that stood up to the French occupation after the 1 World War.
The day after, we had a “training” day where the supervisor Prof. Turksel Dulgergil went through the schedule, clinical examination form, different cases, diseases and treatments that could be needed when visiting the different places. The day was informative and fun.
Dr Berna Göcebe giving us info about the schedule.
A lecture held by Prof Turksel Dulgergil.
The third day we went together to a village called Turkoglu Uzunsögut. When we arrived the majority of the people was already gathered from the village and we were warmly welcomed with smiles. When we stepped off the bus we were surrounded by happy children who had been waiting patiently for us in the warm weather, and they helped us to prepare and set up chairs, tables, etc.
Arriving at the village. With mobile dental unit and tools we are ready.
Prof Turksel deals with the first patient.
My mates gave oral hygiene instructions to the Children.
Knee-to-knee with parent to treat the Child (fluoride varnish application).
Inside of the mobile dental unit where some treatments can be performed.
The atmosphere was filled with energy and joy. We were divided into small Groups and each group would be in charge of different tasks (examination, fluoride varnish etc). At the end of the day, the clinical examination, fluoride varnish, treatment was performed and all mother-child pairs received dental kits. In addition to this they were given the disease info and oral hygiene instructions. The total number of dhildren examined was 450.
It was a tough day in 40 degree heat and work under the sun, but it was extremely instructive and the experience was wonderful. Helping children and mothers and making them aware of their oral health was worth all the sweat.
At the end of the day…wonderful feelings have been shared.
The fourth day of the week, we went to Syrian Refugees Camp. We got on the bus and we were charged of energy and joy to meet everyone and see how they truly have it. When we arrived after a few hours bus trip, we saw that all of the children were waiting for us. It made me so happy to see. When we got off the bus the Children ran over, with hugs and kisses and with the joy in their eyes and smile and dragged us to their other friends. This increased my energy and made me genuinely happy to see. After having spent a wonderful time with the children out there, we had to start working. We were split up in different groups and each group was responsible for different tasks. At the end of the day we had received 1000 Children. I left the place with joy, knowing I did all I could.
The never ending queue.
A Picture says a thousand Words.
Giving them oral hygiene instructions and dental kits. It was so fun to see how willing they are to learn. All we need is tooth brush and education to maintain a better oral healh.
While clinically examining the Children.
I looked forward to the fifth day because we would meet children with mental and physicial disabilities and children from 1-6 years of age. We performed the same tasks as the previous days, but the application was different on the handicapped children. It was particularly challenging especially because some children could not sit still, some were scared, some were susceptible when we came near their mouth region and some of them wanted so much attention and love which made me so happy to experience. Being around them felt different because they radiated special energy and love was seen in their eyes. It was a special experience and I would love to do it again.
We have Power in our hands to do something…and we gotta use it.
Children with disibilities are dependent on someone for the rest of their lives. We have to help them in one way or another and create opportunities for them, just like we have.
After some hours, we had to go to the health care center where we met mothers with children between 1-6 years. We made clinical examination and we applied fluoride varnish for the children. It was such a wonderful day.
The sixth day was an exciting day for me because I have never visited geriatric care. The day was scheduled to meet elderly adults and to treat them. When we arrived, we sat together with the elderly adults to get to know them. After a nice moment of life stories and funny jokes together with them we began to examine and treat them. Some needed scaling, some needed their prosthesis to be checked etc. We also gave oral hygiene instructions and disease info and distributed dental kits to them. We ended the day by going to Yesilgöz where we ate barbecued food surrounded of wonderful hills and a beautiful lake. Certificates were awarded with handmade jewelry box as a gift to each one of us.
Lets make difference in their lives.
Prof Turksel Dulgergil is making restorations.
The seventh day we packed our bags and we went our separate ways after a wonderful week and time together. The memories will remain and be unforgettable. I am more than happy and forever thankful for this opportunity and experience.
There lies opportunities to seek knowledge and we all make our own opportunities if we want. The knowledge is everywhere and is overpriced free. It just depends on us to seek and deepen our knowledge. This experience has truly enriched me as person and my future.
17 july -27 july
Already three wonderful weeks have passed. Overall, my weeks have surpassed all of my expectations. Happy to tell you guys, my weeks are filled with amazing sights and experiences.
As planned, I regularly spend 3-4 days per week at the Family Physician Health Center to continue to collect data for my work. I have reached amount of 35 mother-child pairs and I have 15 left. While examining the pairs I feel meaningful purpose, knowing that this isn’t just a thesis that has to be done, but also that those mother-child pairs hereafter will become aware about their oral health and will get enlightened with education to maintain a good oral hygiene. Not only education, but also distribution of dental kits that will be given to them such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. This will have a significant impact in improving oral health. In terms of their bad dental status the challenges are big, but so are the rewards.
We are having a great opportunity to make a significant difference in their lives.
In the end of every examination I can see and feel a sense of appreciation in their eyes. Experiencing that rewards can be so big after little investment is truly amazing. This really fuels my entire day and due to this I wake up every morning with momentum and go to sleep with satisfaction.
I spend the rest of the days at the University where my supervisor works. At the Clinic I continue to collect relevant articles to work, analyzing saliva samples and get my own patients to treat.
Another great part of the day is looking forward to getting my own patient to examine and treat them because I experience different cases and learn a different system of treating. It is so instructive to explore similarities and learn the differences between the countries for example, how we examine, how we meet the patients, how we diagnose and what factors mostly matters.
I’m ending my days jogging together with my supervisor Dr Turksel to the forest and mountains to capture the nature and release my thoughts because I believe the nature is a great equalizer. I’m truly amazed by the size and variety of the natural environments and I just can’t get enough of it.
My apologies for the slowness of my first post
After some hours airplane and bus trip I finally arrived early in the morning to Kirikkale. I stood in front of my apartment and had a moment of enjoyment. I couldn’t wait to start my thesis with warm summer days. The weather was amazing. Even though I haven’t had any sleep in 24 hours I was too excited to go to sleep. I met up with a friend for breakfast and thereafter I met my supervisor Prof Turksel Dulgergil and his family for the first time. They welcomed me and embraced me sincerely like I was a family member. I felt a warm feeling deep within and moments of exquisite happiness. We spent lovely time together and they showed me around in Kirikkale.
6- 12 July
Days went by and I became busy every day. Busy, organizing my life here in Kirikkale and making preparations for my thesis together with my supervisor Prof. Turksel. The invitations of mother-child pairs, the questionnaire and the materials that is needed for the field study were prepared and completed.
We took the holy month Ramazan and Bayram into consideration when invitations of mother-child pairs were made. We divided and called the mother-child pairs in different days to the Family Physician Health Center. When meeting the mother-child pairs the questionnaire was fulfilled by two dental assistants through direct interview with the mothers and the oral examination were made on mother-child pairs by me. The mothers and their children were screened for the bacteria level by salivary strip test. Information and instruction about oral health together were given to each mother-child pair. At the end of each examination we applied fluoride varnish to each child and we gave a dental hygiene kit to the mothers and their children. The oral hygiene kits for my field study were sponsored by Colgate and TePe companies (Swedish manufacturer of preventive oral hygiene products). We also offered the mothers that needed restorations a treatment if they wished.
After having spent a long time at the clinic and in the Family Physician Health Center to collect data, I needed time out to recharge so I stepped out of the clinic with my supervisor and jogged across the forest and the amazing mountains of Kirikkale. Things in Kirikkale could not be more beautiful than they are.
Kirikkale as city and the cooperation with my supervisor has exceeded every expectation possible and opened my eyes to new opportunities. Beyond the preparation and collection of data for my thesis, I participated with my supervisor and other dental- and nurse students in another kind field study for children between 2-15 years old. The field study was done in rural areas of “Yozgat” city with mobile dental unite and examination, restorative, extractions, fluoridation etc. were involved. My supervisor is the member of scientific board of national oral health prevention programme (one of three academicians on this board) who arranged these kind of programmes in different parts of Turkey.
This gave me a stunning visual insight and I had hard to imagine something like this happening back home. The children lived in hard conditions and had much worse health. Even if, by chance, this kind of patients appeared back home, I hardly imagine meeting this kind of patients back home with the regularity that I see them here. This brought tears to my eyes, tears of both sadness and happiness, sad seeing them live like this and happy for the opportunity that my supervisor gave me to be here, to help and to make a difference.
I can’t describe how lucky I feel every day to be here in Kirikkale, learning from my well experienced supervisor, learning the differences about oral health, general dentistry, learning the importance of the culture, local livelihoods and environment etc.
Although I miss my family and friends back home, I wouldn’t trade a day of my time here for anything and I am sure you would say the same if you would be in my shoes living these days.
Those days I have spent here so far made me truly realize the phenomenon of taking things for granted. We are too busy in life and we constantly preoccupy ourselves with thoughts of things we don’t have. We should be very thankful and value people and things in our lives. The things we take for granted are dreams for many people here.