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'Nothing could have prepared me' - Norwich dentist on helping Syrian refugee children in Lebanon

PUBLISHED: 14:08 05 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:08 05 May 2018

West Earlham Dental Health Practice Owner, Gautam Sharma, in Lebanon. Photo: West Earlham Dental Health

West Earlham Dental Health Practice Owner, Gautam Sharma, in Lebanon. Photo: West Earlham Dental Health

West Earlham Dental Health

He was determined to spread a little of his Norfolk cheer in the communities and schools of Lebanon .

West Earlham Dental Health Practice Owner, Gautam Sharma, in Lebanon. Photo: West Earlham Dental HealthWest Earlham Dental Health Practice Owner, Gautam Sharma, in Lebanon. Photo: West Earlham Dental Health

And Norwich dentist Dr Gautam Sharma has being doing just that after he flew thousands of miles last week as part of an international mission to provide dental treatment and preventative advice to displaced families from Syria.

In recent days, he has worked alongside medics and specialists from a variety of organisations and academic institutions, and has performed extractions and treatments for more than 300 patients – many of whom were children.

The work is part of a global outreach programme, which sees Dr Sharma working with a group dubbed the Dental Mavericks. A follow-up for all those treated is scheduled to take place in around six months’ time.

Dr Sharma, who sees NHS and private patients at his West Earlham Dental Health Practice, said the experience so far had been humbling.

West Earlham Dental Health Practice Owner, Gautam Sharma, in Lebanon. Photo: West Earlham Dental HealthWest Earlham Dental Health Practice Owner, Gautam Sharma, in Lebanon. Photo: West Earlham Dental Health

He said: “I had a sense of what this work might be like and how emotional it might be – but nothing could have prepared me for the impact of spending time in these wonderful communities.

“As a father and as a dental practitioner, I am always particularly concerned about educating parents and children for the sake of their future health, so to be able to help so many families who need my skills so urgently, has been nothing short of life-changing.”

Dr Sharma, who left the UK with a large collection of gifts and toys donated by patients and Norfolk residents, has several days of his trip still remaining, and will see more schools and orphanages before returning at the weekend.

He added: “I am so incredibly glad to have had this opportunity, and to feel I have been able to make such a big difference to the lives of so many people here.

West Earlham Dental Health Practice Owner, Gautam Sharma, in Lebanon. Photo: West Earlham Dental HealthWest Earlham Dental Health Practice Owner, Gautam Sharma, in Lebanon. Photo: West Earlham Dental Health

“Everyone is so grateful and so happy all the time. There are huge lessons in that for us all back in the UK.”

He added: “I would also like to extend my gratitude to the many patients and friends of my practice who contributed items which I have now been able to share out among the refugees.

“They have really helped create a big impact in this part of the world.”

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