A very special lady

If you follow my Facebook site you will know that I enjoyed a reunion last night with Jo Topley (Bridge2Aid) and Grace Godfrey (practice manager for Hope Dental Centre) both visiting from Tanzania.
Annie and I had the good fortune to meet with them both three years ago when we first visited Mwanza and fell under the spell of the work done by Bridge2Aid in training clinical officers for Tanzania, conducting the VDP programme and helping the leprosy colony at Bukumbi.
Since then, we have been ardent supporters of the charity, with Annie on the B2A stand at all the dental shows and yours truly doing his bit with the leadership team as a coach.
On our last trip to Africa, we held a team training day for the practice – a challenge as I had no idea whether my ideas (or jokes) would go down well – but a great session was enjoyed by all.
Since then, I have been observing how the dental practice and the charity have grown in stature, authority and organisation – a real evolution into a serious enterprise.
In that time, Grace has evolved and matured into a quiet leader, embracing more and more responsibility as the founders have moved forward themselves.
Three years ago, the practice was heavily dependent on management by the “Europeans”.
I was delighted last night to have the opportunity to discuss with Grace subjects as diverse as:

  • team building and leadership
  • the marketing strategy for the clinic with the indigenous population
  • financial monitoring and KPI’s

This, with a lady who three years ago, would have perhaps preferred to stay at the back of the room and focus on dental “stuff”.
It is a tribute to Ian, Andie, Mark and Jo that they have created an environment where Grace (and the rest of the HDC team) can grow in this way – a really permanent contribution to the local community.
Spare a moment this morning to think about the challenges of running a dental clinic in NW Tanzania.
Hardly anybody interested in cosmetic dentistry.
Very few concerned with long term oral health (there is no recall system to speak of).
A business based purely on pain relief with as high as 1 in 3 patients per month brand new visitors.
The work is sometimes heroic and ALL of the profits of Hope Dental Centre go straight into Bridge2Aid to fund their charitable activities in bringing dental care to the wider population.
This post isn’t yet another Christmas charity plea – you have enough on your plate.
This post is the appreciation of a wonderful lady, enjoying her first ever trip outside of her home country and marvelling at the things we take for granted (including snow!) – and equal appreciation of the magnificent people who have sacrificed so much to work there with her.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.