Abbey to help bring smiles

Nikkii Joyce | 8th July 2010

WHEN teenager Abbey Lindley sets off for Thailand next month, it will not be in the usual search for world famous beaches or shopping. The 15-year-old Chancellor State College student is a volunteer dental assistant who will become part of a free dental health clinic at a Mae La refugee camp. Abbey will join Chancellor Park dentist Colin Morrison and his wife Andrea at the permanent free dental clinic Glory2Glory, which the couple built in February, 2009. The clinic provides much needed care for refugee children and young adults aged one to 20.

Courageous Abbey is set to brave an “unimaginable” environment of tuberculosis and malaria and the absence of the general dental health care she takes for granted. “They are in a great deal of pain and I knew Andrea and thought it was an opportunity for me to help,” she said. The intrepid teenager began memorising a tooth diagram and instrument names yesterday. It is no easy feat, considering the conditions in which the Mae La children and their families live. Ms Morrison named the clinic after a newborn baby, Glory Glory, who was placed in her hands during her first visit in August 2008.

She said the two-week experience would be a “devastating assault” on Abbey’s senses. “Your heart wants to be there, but your head is telling you to get the hell out of there,” Ms Morrison said. “It’s like walking into a war zone.” Ms Morrison said clinic volunteers, including trained refugee teenagers, had turned around what had been a 60% ratio of extremely severe tooth decay. “Of course, we feed them and clothe them and put a roof over their heads, but their teeth are so rotten they could die,” she said. A Glory2Glory fundraising lunch will be held at The Spice Bar on July 16 at noon. Bookings are essential. Phone Lisa Lindley on 0417 540 820 by tomorrow.