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  1. 10 Year Anniversary Celebrated at Tanzania High Commission

    October 8, 2014


    Today we marked 10 years of DVP and Hope Dental Centre with a reception hosted by the Tanzania High Commissioner in the UK at the mission in London.

    CEO Mark Topley, Co-Founder Ian Wilson and Chairman Alan Frampton were hosted by the High Commissioner Peter Kallaghe and joined by Lord Peter Mandelson – a supporter of our work – and Brad Gordon, CEO of African Barrick Gold who have been a major sponsor of DVP for 5 years.

    The event was to celebrate 10 years of partnership with the Tanzanian Government, and also announce a new campaign around the theme “WHAT IF?”– looking into the effects of untreated dental pain – and Mark Topley, talked of the charity’s ambition to expand into other parts of Africa.

    “Dental caries (tooth decay) is a scourge that remains the world’s most common, yet often unacknowledged, disease,”said Mark.

    “A huge number of working days are lost to an ultimately treatable disease, with billions of people suffering around the world from untreated tooth decay.

    “In fact, 80% of people will suffer from dental caries during their lifetime,”he said.

    “Why is it that armed forces include dental care as an essential medical service to soldiers, sailors and airmen, yet so often what the World Health Organisation calls a ‘fundamental right’–access to simple emergency treatment – is not available for the vast majority of the populations in developing countries? Infection from untreated toothache can – literally – kill. We’ve seen that happen.

    “Simple training in extraction techniques, as our dental volunteers provide to local health workers, can dramatically improve quality of life. That’s why on the eve of our 10th anniversary, we’re calling on people to back us in the expansion of the B2A training model into other areas of Tanzania and beyond, and looking for further support to roll out a package we know works.”

    Lord Peter Mandelson said: “I am delighted to be supporting Bridge2Aid and its vital work in Tanzania. Mark and his team do a wonderful job in partnership with the Tanzanian government, and over the last 10 years they have benefited millions of Tanzanians. The impact of untreated dental pain across the developing world is enormously under-appreciated and is something which Bridge2Aid has fought hard to have recognised, as well as concretely demonstrating the benefits of tackling the problem through its programmes every single day.”

    His Excellency Peter Kallaghe, Tanzania’s High Commissioner to the UK, said: “The achievements of the Bridge2Aid team in the past 10 years have been remarkable, and the resulting impact on individuals and communities has been transformational.

    “Since our combined effort was rolled out with Bridge2Aid, in the areas of training, there has been an 80% decrease in the number of dental patients needing to visit district dental facilities, and over 90% of dental problems can be addressed by the trained Clinical Officers.

    “So we know Bridge2Aid works; we know the model works; and we are confident that its approach will work in many other countries too. I will be looking forward to Bridge2Aid’s 20th anniversary –and hope that word will continue to spread of its good, and absolutely necessary, efforts.”

    Pictured are Bridge2Aid representatives along with H.E Peter Kallaghe, Lord Peter Mandelson and Brad Gordon – CEO of African Barrick Gold, who have been a major Bridge2Aid sponsor since 2009.



  2. It’s October, so there must be a big dental event somewhere…

    October 7, 2014

    I’ve been in the UK a week now, only 11 days till I leave for home on what is the longest trip I’ve done since I moved to Tanzania 9 years ago.

    So far it has been a great encouragement – speaking to the Association of Dental Groups last week, meeting with some new high-level supporters, time with the UK team and of course the 10 Year Birthday Bash at Wembley.

    This week it starts to get really busy and a big reason for that is the British Dental Industry Association Showcase at the Excel in Docklands from Thursday to Saturday.

    For those of you who like me aren’t dentists, the Showcase may seem a bit of a strange concept. A room full of dental equipment isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but the show attracts a large number of dental people each year to come and see what’s on offer. It’s also packed with exhibitors, many of whom are big Bridge2Aid supporters.

    For me, and for Bridge2Aid, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet new supporters and volunteers, and to catch up with existing ones. And enjoy a salt beef bagel or two…

    The three days is a whirlwind of meetings, chatting to volunteers and trying to stay in touch with the outside world. The bubble isn’t helped by artificial lights, caffeine and soul-less hotel rooms.

    But it is great to see people that would otherwise be dispersed around the country all in one place. There is usually a heavy social element, although no Bridge2Aid party this year. We covered that at Wembley last weekend and I think Shaenna would resign if we added another event…

    This year is our 9th year of being hosted by our friends A-dec UK on their stand. If you’re not a dental person, A-dec  are the world’s largest manufacturer of dental chairs (and other things) and a thoroughly nice bunch of people. We are always made to feel very welcome and the contribution their hosting makes to what we do in East Africa is enormous.

    We will be on stand M03a this year, so if you are in the area, come along and say hello.

  3. Beginnings

    October 1, 2014

    This past week I’ve been busy preparing for October – a month I’ve been looking forward to for a while as it marks the 10th Anniversary of the Bridge2Aid Dental Volunteer Programme and Hope Dental Centre.

    One of my tasks was to put together a sequence of photos for the 10 Year Birthday Bash at Wembley on Saturday. Nat and Kit in the UK team kindly sifted through our archives and found (we hope!) a photo of every person who has ever taken part in something for Bridge2Aid. Some great pictures, fantastic achievements, wonderful people.


    And here’s one that brings back the beginning for me – our very first DVP in October 2004, with Neeta, Debbie and Penny, outside the District Medical Office in Magu on the way to the very first day of training, with the Magu DMO, the Regional Dental Officer Joseph, and Samuel Kalongoji, the District Dental Officer (Jo Topley is taking the picture).

    Ian and I haven’t aged a bit :)

    So much has been achieved since then, and so many people helped directly and indirectly, through DVP, HDC and the work at Bukumbi. And I hope the video we run through the evening on Saturday will bring back all that the Bridge2Aid family has achieved together in that time.

    So October kicks off, and as well as pushing on to do more, it’s time to look back and celebrate. It’s going to be an emotional month.

  4. Birthday Bash Auction

    September 29, 2014

    The Birthday Bash Auction is now well underway, with bids starting to come in.

    Whether you want to hold a casino night for your team, go along to watch the centre court action at wimbledon, have someone write your auto-biography, or start your Christmas shopping – you know that you’ll supporting our work at the same time.

    There were such fantastic prizes on offer that we decided to open it up to everyone, not just those who will be joining us for the Birthday Bash on Saturday 4th at Wembley. It will close at 10pm on the 4th.

    If you want to have a look through the 26 amazing lots, click here

    Happy Bidding

    Here are just a small selection of things on offer:

    Aviva Premiership - ESPN FilmimgCobra Driver england-ashes  Olympic swimming shirt Silver bangle TanzaniteHotel Rez hotel

  5. What Desperation Does

    September 24, 2014

    Last week I was in Bukoba, north west Tanzania, visiting one of our DVP teams.

    I recorded a video blog about that trip last week and you can find it here.

    As I said in the v-log, travelling with the volunteers and seeing DVP in action was a great boost for me. It always reminds me of why what we do is so important, and just how effective the combination of our volunteer trainers, B2A staff team, and training of Health Workers is when it comes to treating dental pain.

    By the end of the programme, over 1,300 people had been treated, and fantastically, 100% of the Health Workers passed the course. They will soon be treating patients week in, week out – a brilliant legacy for the DVP teams.

    Since I got back from my trip, I found out some of the stories from the team and the other DVP team in Karagwe, who were working even further into the area. The Bukoba team saw Faustine.

    It’s a sad but unfortunately familiar tale – Faustine, who is a farmer had suffered so badly and was in so much pain after 5 years with an infected tooth that he resorted to untrained treatment, such was his level of desperation. Our clinical team assessed him and concluded that it was probably the infected state of the tissues rather than the procedure that caused the subsequent problem – removing the tooth badly simply made space for the infection to spread. But he should never have got into that condition in the first place. If there had been a trained Health Worker in his village, he could have got help quickly and cheaply.

    Thankfully, we have now put him on the road to recovery and he will soon be seen in Mwanza.

    But it makes you think – what drives someone to risk that kind of injury?

    And of course we know the answer. Dental caries causes the most excruciating pain, and once you have that pain, it’s almost impossible to escape without treatment. People will resort to any means necessary to relieve it.

    By putting 12 more trained health care workers within reach of another 120,000 people in north west Tanzania last week, we’ve taken another step towards making cases like the one above a thing of the past.

    If you would like to support our work (£5 pays for access to emergency treatment for a whole family), please donate now.

    If you’re a dental professional and would like to take part in our unique, sustainable volunteer programme, click here.

  6. Oasis Dental Care launches a new charity partnership

    September 18, 2014

    new page 6

    We are really excited to announce that Oasis Dental Care has chosen Bridge2Aid as their charity partner for the next year.

    The partnership will be launched at their Annual Conference on 19th September, and will start with a Fundraising Week in October.  During this week, a number of their practices around the country will be getting involved, and having fun whilst raising money for our Dental Training Programmes.

    To find out more about why they decided to partner with Bridge2Aid, click here.

  7. Back to Bukoba

    September 16, 2014

    CEO Mark Topley visits the 63rd Dental Volunteer Programme team in Bukoba, North West Tanzania, and talks about the impact of the programme and its importance in rural areas.


  8. Win tickets to the Bridge2Aid Birthday Bash

    September 12, 2014

    Win tickets to the birthday bash of the year!



    Bridge 2 Aid is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a birthday bash this October, and to add to the excitement we are offering you a chance to win two tickets to the event of the year!*

    Entry couldn’t be easier; simply make a £2 donation to Bridge 2 Aid at by the close of business on Monday 15th September for your chance to win these sought-after tickets.

    Ten years have bought us many generous volunteers, donors, fundraisers and a number of family members who all continue to support our work and development in East Africa – all of whom are invited to join us for this very special evening.

    The birthday bash will take place from 6:30pm on Saturday 4th October at Wembley Stadium. Tickets are £95 per person, and family and friends are most welcome to join in the fun – the more the merrier!

    For your chance to win, please visit, or click on the donate now button above.

    BASH banner

    *Please note that if you are successful in winning the 2 tickets, no cash alternative can be offered. If you are unable to attend, however, you can offer the tickets to someone else to attend in your place. 

  9. Straumann’s Intercontinental challenge for Bridge2Aid

    August 22, 2014

    Next month, members of Straumann UK will join loyal customers to collectively unite for a challenge that will see them travel through 5 European countries in just 5 days!

    The 500 mile intercontinental charity bike ride will take place from Tuesday 2nd September – Saturday 5th September, and the group will begin this once in a lifetime challenge in Milan, Italy and will finish in Basel, Switzerland.

    Many obstacles and challenging conditions are expected along the way but are considered more than worth it by the team who are raising money for Bridge2Aid and the Cleft Lip & Palate Association. The route will include one of the most iconic routes through the Stelvio Pass with a climb of over 9000 feet, one of the highest paved mountain passes in the Eastern Alps of Northern Italy!

    Straumann are ultimately aiming to raise over £24,000 for Bridge2Aid and CLAPA. Donations can be made online via and you can find out more about this year’s team on the dedicated Facebook Page here.

    We thank the team for their continued support of our dental training programmes, and wish the riders the very best of luck!

  10. You vs yourself

    August 11, 2014

    - Mark Topley, CEO

    Three years ago this week, I, along with 20 or so others was busy preparing for what was to become one of the most enjoyable, challenging, rewarding experiences of our lives – climbing Africa’s highest Mountain – Kilimanjaro.

    A 40 minute turbo-prop flight from my home in Mwanza, Kili overshadows the north eastern Tanzanian town of Moshi – a peaceful cool and calm ex-colonial settlement surrounded by leafy coffee plantations. With clean mountain air, cool mornings and on a good day, a stunning view of the twin peaks of Mwenzi and Kibo which constitute Kilimanjaro, it is one of my favourite places in East Africa.

    I’ve written before about the friendships that were forged and cemented on that trip. I treasure them, and just last week was messaging our group about a reunion in October at the 10 Year Birthday Bash. I’m hoping we can get together and have a lot of fun together.

    Chatting to my Kili group over the years since we climbed in 2011, we have all kept our own special memories. They share similar themes, but are very personal. For me, a few stick out;

    You vs yourself MT blog

    Being on the side of Kibo’s almost sheer, frozen scree slope at 4am, exhausted, not quite coherent, with a splitting headache and numb fingers and toes. But somehow summoning the strength and drawing on the support, love and encouragement of our group to make it to the crater rim in time for sunrise. And thereafter the 2 hour slog to the very top. Elation doesn’t cover it.

    Being out of breath in an instant should you mistakenly try even a ‘Dad-run’ to catch up with someone just a few yards in front of you.

    The mystical bird we saw at the top – an eagle type creature that soared above in the sunshine (but birds aren’t supposed to fly that high).

    The best sleep of your life returning to Horombo huts having been on the move for 18 hours solid, and reaching the highest point on the continent.

    We talked often during that week about what it meant to conquer the mountain. Henk, our guide, who is a legend, a man mountain himself (in many ways) and probably climbs Kili 7 or 8 times a year (but would never let on), spoke more in terms of us ‘asking permission’ to summit.

    I think pretty soon after you start the climb, you get a strong sense of awe, of respect and reverence for the ecosystem on which you stand. And I came to not see it as something to be conquered, but more a beautiful means to conquering adversity within. In the end, the battle isn’t with the mountain, it’s with yourself – it’s in your mind and over your body to keep going when you think you’ve got nothing left. Which is what life is all about – and not just when you’re on a mountain.

    I recall these memories today because this weekend our latest Bridge2Aid group will be landing at Kilimanjaro International Airport. They will touch down in the evening, after the African sunset has dropped an inky blanket over the surrounding countryside, and the 1 hour drive to the lodge will be pretty dark. They will need to wait for the next morning to hopefully get their first glimpse of Kibo peeking through the clouds, making an imposing and intimidating statement as it towers above their hotel in the foothills. I get goosebumps just typing the words…

    It has been great to read some of the tweets, blogs and Facebook posts of some of the group getting ready to go. I remember that mix of excitement and nerves very well, and I am very envious. I know many of my Kili family feel the same when this time of year comes around. That week we spent together, disconnected from the outside world with nothing to do or think about but putting one foot in front of the other was a precious one.

    I will make the climb again, but it won’t be this year. Due to other commitments I also won’t be able to go and meet the group, which I am very disappointed by.  I hope they have a fantastic time, and go with the thanks of the whole team for the funds they will raise and the challenge they have accepted.

    In the end it’s just you versus yourself, and remember – pole pole on the mountain!