The leader of our South Australian Dental Team, Dr Colin Twelftree OAM has stood down due to his retirement. Colin has been a dedicated member of AVVRG for almost 25 years. His accomplishments in the field of dentistry in Vietnam are unparalleled.
Colin participated in the CMF before being called up and subsequently posted to Vietnam. Following his National Service, he later re-joined the CMF.
In 1996, Colin, with a colleague made his first Dental Aid trip to Vietnam. Jointly they extracted 600 teeth to relieve pain!!
Later a Dental Clinic was established in Long Tan and Colin devised a plan to make sure every child within the immediate area would start life with a healthy set of permanent teeth. A goal that was accomplished. He then extended the service to cover the Long Hai and Vung Tau areas.
After the clinic’s success, portable dental equipment was purchased to meet the needs of villagers in outlying areas.
From these early beginnings Australian Dental Teams now visit every 2 months. Dentists, hygienists, surgeons and nurses volunteer under the organisational plans that Colin has created and managed.
Miraculously, in 2015 through Colin’s strong relationships and high regard in Vietnam, a fully equipped dental bus appeared. The source of which remains a mystery today.
The types of treatment conducted today, ranges from simple extractions, restorations to more advanced surgery, with oral hygiene instruction a vital part of the program.
This program is mainly funded by the volunteers with some assistance from dental associations.
In Colins own words, apart from the success of the dental program “The highlights over time have been the personal relationships established between my family and the people with whom we work in Vietnam, especially Ms Thuy, who has been our translator for virtually every trip from 2009, a service she provides in her own time, and Huong Pham, senior nurse in Ba Ria, who arranges permits and permissions. Another often overlooked benefit of the visits is the joy and experience gained, especially by the young volunteers, many of whom had not been overseas before, and by Australian born people of Vietnamese parents.”
In retirement Colin is looking forward to travelling, time with grandchildren and maintaining the friendships formed through his AVVRG efforts in both Vietnam and Australia.
AVVRG is completely indebted to Colin for his service, and commitment to the people of Southern Vietnam. You have definitely earnt your retirement.