Working as a volunteer dentist is a truly unique experience. Not only are your professional skills used to help children who are desperately in need of dental care, but at the same time, you are in Jerusalem only steps away from thousands of years of history and beliefs.
Scott Dubowsky, a local dentist practicing in Bayonne, NJ, was one such volunteer this past summer. He spent a week working at the DVI (Dental Volunteers for Israel) clinic
Started by the late Trudi Birger, a Holocaust survivor, in 1980. The DVI clinic sees over 12,000 patient visits a year for children between the ages of 5 and 18 years of age. The clinic is non sectarian and sees a mix of all of the different nationalities that make up the population. In a given day there will be Palestinian, Eithiopian, Russian, or ultra-orthodox Jewish kids in the clinic.
Half of Jerusalem’s population of 800,000 is under the age of 18 and half of these children live under the poverty line. In Israel medical care is taken care of by a national plan, but dental care is not generally available for these groups. The DVI clinic is often these children’s only chance for dental care.
The volunteer dentists work under the auspices of a small and dedicated professional team led by clinic director Moti Moskowitz who is a pediatric dentist. DVI volunteer dentists are the only foreign health care providers able to provide direct care to Israeli patients.
After submitting their credentials, dentists can choose to work in the clinic from 1 to 3 weeks. The clinic operates five days a week from 8 AM until around 1 PM. After that the volunteer dentists have free time to see all of the wonderful sights.
Dr. Dubowsky was able to take care of up to 12 children each day and what he saw were dental problems that are much worse than those seen in most US offices. In fact, for these children, dental disease was often their most pressing health care issue. He did find the experience most rewarding and is planning to return to Israel and the DVI clinic.