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After COVID-19: do we want to go back to “normal”?
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August 09 Edition Cover

Docklander - Dec 19 - Jan 20

04 Dec 2019

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Dental saving kids in Timor Leste

Through meeting a community group after moving to Docklands, Kim Hindmarsh was able to turn a personal passion into charity caring for 2500 kids in 10 schools in Timor Leste.

Solar Smiles Dental Charity provides solar powered backpack dental chairs to rural communities in Timor Leste. It sends teams over four or five times a year and now has a full-time employee in the country.

But it started as a personal experience for Kim.

“I was really sick between 2007 and 2009, I was suicidal,” she said.

“I was finally well enough at the end of 2009 that I wanted to get out from underneath it and Cambodia flashed up.”

Kim said she’d spent lots of time travelling the world to see temples like Angkor Wat, but was naively unaware of Cambodia’s political history.

“My last day of the tour was at the killing fields, walking around the mass graves and teeth are coming up through the dirt paths.”

“I sat next to the 8000 skulls and sat down and cried.”

“I had a real head and heart moment. I thought I can do something; I have a background in dental. I’ll bring back toothbrushes.”

She went back a couple of years later with 100 toothbrushes and handed them out to a remote hill tribe.

“They were absolutely delighted. It took me a while, but I fell into a Cambodia project down here in Docklands and that’s how it really started.”

“And now I look around and ask ‘how did this happen to me?’”

“I’m a high school dropout and yet just over two months ago I was standing in the Ministry of Health in Timor presenting to their ministers to take on our project.”

Kim stumbled across Docklands Rotary after she moved here from Townsville in 2014. The club had a stall about Cambodia.

“I loved Cambodia obviously, so I got involved in that project and after a while they asked if I wanted to be a Rotarian and I said ‘hell, no!’”

“I thought I didn’t want to hang out with a whole heap of old people, but for nine months I got more and more involved and started going to a few meetings.”

“I had my own idea about this dental project, and they let me run with that, and then I realised it’s not really an age thing anymore I just want to be associated with people with hearts like mine. People who wanted to leave the planet in a better place than they found it.”

solarsmilesdentalcharity.com

 

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