On March 23rd 2009, three men, who often do voluntary work for Shelter Now, began an unusual journey. Two dentists from Germany had donated two second-hand dental chairs for our dentistry project in Herat, Afghanistan. The German Armed Forces agreed to transport...
On March 23rd 2009, three men, who often do voluntary work for Shelter Now, began an unusual journey.
Two dentists from Germany had donated two second-hand dental chairs for our dentistry project in Herat, Afghanistan. The German Armed Forces agreed to transport the unusual cargo to Afghanistan. Our volunteers then went to install the chairs at the dental surgery in Herat.
Andreas Ziehr, one of the volunteers, tells us how things went:
As soon as we arrived in Afghanistan, Heiko Koch, Chris Schmitt and myself headed straight for the dental clinic. On arrival, we found that work to convert the building into a clinic was well underway. Wherever we looked, there were workers beavering away. To begin with, we had to make do with a temporary power cable.
Once we connected up the cables for the water and compressed air, we discovered that the fine jets and valves weren’t working properly. Most of the lines were clogged up and full of limescale. As we had no spare parts to be able to replace anything, we began the painstaking task of cleaning and repairing all the tiny components. Fortunately we received very practical help from the Christusträger Brotherhood – a German Christian brotherhood with a community in Kabul. They sent us Ali, one of their best workers, who has worked with medical equipment for the past 17 years. With his help, we went through everything systematically. Mustering up a lot of patience and working with great precision, we took each component apart, cleaning all the parts and putting them back together again.
A short-circuit briefly gave us all a bit of a shock. During one of the power cuts – which are not unusual here – water had got into the electronics. For me it was beyond question that the chair was now no longer usable. But our Afghan friend took a very different view. He unsoldered the circuit board and simply reinserted the relay at a different place.
It seemed a complete miracle to us that at the end of all our efforts we were able to hand over both dental chairs in fully working order.
Our special thanks to the German companies Gerl Dental, KaVo and Brose for their kind support and their role in ensuring the success of this project.