Adekemi Adeniyan puts smiles on the faces of children through her DentalCare Foundationadmin 24th February 2019 0 COMMENTS
Desert Bloom initiative is designed to identify and support small Non for Profit Organisations in Africa. We profile outstanding and credible organisations, make their programs/projects visible, and assist them in disseminating and promoting their upcoming projects/events. These set of organisations work tirelessly on the field doing great work and improving the lives of people living in small communities but rarely get the attention of large networks. We support these organisations by hosting their contents on all our online platforms for free (website, social media, blogs, and weekly newsletter). By profiling them and documenting their stories, we gain insights into how they operate, the challenges they face and the opportunities for potential collaboration.
Our Desert Bloomer for the week is Adekemi Adeniyan who wears many hats. She has the heart to help people in her community and is doing a fantastic job in Ekiti state Nigeria and beyond. Adekemi recently became an Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity where she joins other global leaders making a change in the lives of people. You will enjoy reading about her and the organisations she has established.
Could you please tell us about yourself?
Generally, when people ask me to introduce myself I simply say, I am Adekemi Adeniyan, a pastor by calling, dentist by training, mentor by choice, poet at heart and writer by passion. I am a woman of many hats and my goal is to make a difference in the world. I am the founder and Executive director of Dentalcare Foundation and also an associate Pastor in New Reality Christian Centre, Ado-Ekiti. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Dentistry from i.Ya Horbachevsky Ternopil State Medical University, Ukraine. During my undergraduate studies, I became the senate president for dental students of the Nigerian Medical Association, Ternopil. I was still keen on taking up challenging positions, so immediately I was called to serve the Fellowship of Christian Students Ternopil as the assistant general coordinator, I embraced it with all enthusiasm. After my studies, I co-founded the Kompletewoman in 2014, an organisation that mentors young women to discover their purpose at a young age. The organisation empowered teenage mothers in Ajegunle through our slum empowerment project. A year after, I was granted the Distinction of Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Afterwards, I became a fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative, RLC West Africa in 2016 and in 2019, I was selected as a fellow of the Atlantic Fellows For Health Equity at George Washington University.
How would you describe your dental Healthcare Foundation?
Dentalcare Foundation, formerly known as Dentoville foundation, is a Non-Profit Organization founded in 2018 with a view to improve and cater for free oral health care for orphans, children and adults in rural areas. Most adults and children in rural populations in Nigeria have limited access to dental care facilities. Those who have access to one cannot afford the out of pocket costs for the dental procedures they require. Our Vision is to bring quality oral health care to these completely ignored underdeveloped areas, and to make significant difference in the lives of so many people. Our target audience are families who live in rural communities and cannot afford dental care, orphans and anyone suffering from any dental disease due to lack of funds to go to a dental facility. Our goal is to:
- Provide dental care to as many needy orphans who lack good basic oral hygiene and dental care.
- Create educational or prevention programs in rural areas.
- Distribute free dental care kit such as toothbrushes and toothpastes in villages and rural communities.
- Reduce low self-esteem in rural areas associated with bad oral health through advocacy and education
- Build tooth brushing stations in schools in rural areas to educate children on the right brushing techniques.
We do this by arranging a number of projects in rural areas and orphanage homes. We send out a substantial number of Volunteers, Dentists and health workers. Our projects include immediate and urgent dental aid, tooth brushing programs, thorough dental examination and checkups, patient counseling and awareness. We intend to extend our activities to target health promotion and developments. We aim to make our projects not just one off events that solve instant problems but integrate target audienc into local health policies to prevent identified problems. This will ensure that general dental health as well as quality of life are improved.
Have there been successful projects?
Oh yes, we have had. We have had two successful projects since inception which are “project healthy mouth healthy kids” and “Dental Christmas outreach” where we reached out to 256 children. One of the project intended for this year is to reach out to five rural communities and build at least one tooth brushing station in a rural school.
What are the major challenges and how do you overcome them?
One of the major challenge faced by my organisation is definitely one common to most nonprofits which is access to funds and consumables necessary to carry out projects. It can be tasking especially when you are a small and growing organisation. Most grant makers today would rather fund organisations that have been existing for more than two years. This in itself has been challenging. However we do a lot of crowd funding, online fundraising and we have had private donors give to the project which has been good so far. We are looking to raise more partners and committed donors this year. Another major challenge is having more people to treat than equipment, however, we are working on how to have several visits to a community so that everyone in dire need of treatment would be catered for.
What inspired you to set up Dentalcare Foundation?
I believe fulfillment comes by improving the quality of people’s life and this is why I studied Dentistry as an Undergraduate. In my 4th year, I shadowed a community dentist; seeing how he brought smiles to people made me know instantly that I wanted to be that person. I understand what it means to be a kid and not know where the next meal will come from not to talk of thinking of getting dental care. I got my first dental treatment when I was 23 and it wasn’t because I had no issues with my tooth but because there were priorities on where money could be better spent. This particularly inspired me to want to reach out to kids and people who cannot afford dental care. The thought of starting the foundation first came to me in 2014 but I couldn’t just get the right motivation and team to get it going. I worked as a mobile dentist for a while and for an Ngo that deals with neglected tropical diseases. In 2018, my pastor and mentor inspired me to start it up and he made sure I got everything going and that was how I decided to merge my skills and passion to give back. That’s how Dentalcare Foundation was born.
You recently became an Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity, please tell us more about it.
I am really proud to be an Atlantic fellow for health equity and I must say that it is a great privilege for me to be among a large network of Health equity warriors globally. It’s a one year non- residential fellowship that brings together and train 20 US and global leaders working in diverse fields and organisations to foster health equity. We had the initial convening of the fellowship at the George Washington University USA, and we would be having series of online classes and other face to face convening throughout the year, but the good thing is that, after graduation you become a lifelong fellow. I first came across it on LinkedIn in June 2018 and I decided to check it out. When I saw the biographies of past fellows I was almost discouraged because I felt maybe I couldn’t get in. Then I came across the profiles of Kai Kennedy (who happens to be my mentor in the fellowship) and Christina Rosenthal who also is an awesome dentist and I just had this push to do so because I wanted to bring a change just like they were doing. I was so glad when I got notified for an interview in September 2018. I had a 30 minutes interview via zoom and a month later, I was notified that I was selected. It’s been an amazing journey so far, I have made amazing connections, learned things that has geared me to think outside the box and it has only just begun. It is a fellowship I would recommend to anyone looking to champion health equity in their country or communities.
If you would like to be part of subsequent outreach programmes or you would like to donate, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.