Africa (West): Mali

 HUMANITARIAN DENTAL MISSION TO MALI, AFRICA

 

by Laurence Palmer, DDS

From Feb. 15 -22, 2012 a group of 14 individuals traveled to Mali, Africa for a dental mission.  Our group worked in the village of Ouelessebougou for two days as well as the villages of Faradiele, Beneko, Manabougou and Tentou. We extracted over 750 badly decayed teeth.

 

The village of Ferediele. This villager is the brother of former NBA player Soumaile Samake; Dr. Palmer is on the left and Dr. Florence on the right

Due to the lack of dental education and professional dental care, Malians often face serious dental infections.  In many cases these infections cause a slow and painful death. Malians believe in tribal healing and use this as the first mode of treatment.

Camera-shy friends with Jenny JessenCamera-shy friends with Jenny Jessen

Having had the opportunity to travel to Mali for the past 4 years, we have learned much about using our time and resources effectively.

We hit the ground running thanks to the help of Dr. Tom Johnston, Dr. Brandon Tayler and his wife Tami (hygienist), Dr. Shane Jessen and his wife Jenny, Dr. Mike Florence and his daughter Rachelle, Dr. Pearl Burns, myself–Dr. Laurence Palmer and my wife Trudy (hygienist), Nick Smith and the local Malian dentist, Dr. Coulabally.

We were able to install solar panels with the hard work and generosity of Scott & Julie Dixon and Marv Lyon. With these solar panels, the villagers are able to access electricity for the first time in their lives.

We lit up the schools, provided computers, and installed DVD / television combos to enhance their education. Thousands of French schoolbooks were donated as well.

It is an amazing expedition and I feel blessed to be part of it.  Each year we witness many miracles as we serve our Malian brothers and sisters.  Next year come join us!

Thanks.

Laurence Palmer, DDS

 

Dr. Laurence and Trudy Palmer at 801-540-7984 laurencepalmer@hotmail.com or

Dr. Brandon Taylor at 801-615-0620 lethal1975@hotmail.com.

 

In 2010, Dr. Brett Moyes  successfully led another dental expedition to the country of Mali in West Africa. The group of nineteen people included Drs. Laurence Palmer, Brandon Taylor, and Rob Ferrell, as well as one hygienist, Trudy Palmer. Fourteen other volunteers were of great service. These included dental assistants, a building contractor who was of great help in the construction of our tenth school, a nationally renowned behavioral profiler who donated money to build the school, and others who worked tirelessly for two weeks serving the Malian people.

The trip was January 8 – 20, 2010. In that short time, hundreds of people on the African continent were relieved of suffering and educated in oral hygiene. In this country of nearly 14 million people, there are only 52 practicing dentists. People of that great nation are literally dying from untreated dental infections. Through Yeah Samake’s efforts, national television announced the group’s arrival in advance. Hundreds of people traveled great distances for treatment. Some of these were patients who were treated last year and returned only to give thanks for having helped relieve them of suffering. Volunteers worked shoulder to shoulder with the one practicing dentist/oral surgeon in the area, Dr. Coulabaly, with whom the group shared techniques, and to whom hundreds of dollars of dental supplies were donated.

Safe and efficient passage in Mali was greatly facilitated by the Mali Rising Foundation. This foundation was created, and continues to be led by Yeah Samake, a native Malian and convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yeah grew up in great poverty in the city of Ouelessebougou, Mali, but through much sacrifice he found a way to get an education earning his Bachelors and Masters degrees from BYU. It was there that he joined the Church and later received a personal assignment from President Hinckley to bring education and the gospel to his country. Yeah’s extensive connections with government officials, and his own authority as Mayor over forty-four villages made the arrival, the stay and departure from the country nearly seamless. Yeah is considering a run for the presidency of Mali in 2012.

The group gathered for what is believed to be the first two Sacrament meetings ever held in the country of Mali. Not only could one feel the spirit strongly in these meetings, but throughout the journey. Each individual of the group came to know during our stay that they were not working alone, but had the help of unseen hands and felt the guidance of the Spirit.

The placing of several copies of the Book of Mormon, formal meetings with the Minister of Health and the Minister of education, and sun up to sun down service helped move forward President Hinckley’s original commission to educate and enlighten Yeah’s fellow countrymen.