A hope of bringing smiles to Tanzania: A reconnaissance visit for developing reconstructive charity work in Tanzania

In the vast expanse of Africa lies Tanzania, a land of breathtaking natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Indeed, the people of Tanzania possess a remarkable sense of honesty and integrity, even in the face of adversity. Despite grappling with poverty and facing myriad challenges, their moral compass remains steadfast, earning them admiration and respect from all who encounter them.

Mr. Shailesh Vadodaria’s journey along with other trustees of Help Smile Charity (https://helpsmiletrust.co.uk/ ) began during a Kilimanjaro Charity trip, where he had the privilege of experiencing firsthand the warmth and resilience of the Tanzanian people. Despite facing immense challenges, their spirit remained unbroken, and their hospitality knew no bounds. It was during this trip that he witnessed the profound impact of charity work and felt compelled to contribute in any way he could.

Kilimanjaro expedition by Mr. Shailesh Vadodaria, Mrs. Bela Vadodaria, Mr. Rajeev Subhedar and Mrs. Mohini Subhedar. They were looked after by “Gods Of Mountain”, local Tanzanian group of guides

Led by Mr. Shailesh Vadodaria, a senior consultant plastic surgeon from London and trustee of Help Smile Trust, our team embarked on a mission to explore possibility of providing much-needed medical assistance to the people of Tanzania. Joined by compassionate individuals like Mr. Stephano Cotrufo (Consultant plastic surgeon, London), Mr. Himat Lakhani (Tanzania born Indian British, Legal Adviser of Afro-Asian Advisory Service) and Mr. Sailesh Mehta ( Senior barrister from London City), we were determined to make a difference in the lives of those who had been overlooked by society.

Mr. Stephano Cotrufo with a burn victim small child at Mnazi Moja Hospital in Zanzibar where there is no plastic surgical services available
Entire team (Mr. Himat Lakhani, Mr. Sailesh Mehta, Dr. Kaushik Ramya, Mr. Shailesh Vadodaria and Mr. Stephano Cotrufo) (Right to left) in Dar es Salaam

Our journey took us to various hospitals namely Muhimbili National Hospital and Mnazi Moja Hospital in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar respectively and an NGO institute in Dar es Salaam, where we were confronted with the realities of inadequate healthcare infrastructure. It was disheartening to learn that there were no qualified plastic surgeons in Zanzibar, leaving many children with severe burns untreated and facing a lifetime of hardship.

Burn victim child – Zanzibar hospital
Removal of foreign body in a very young child from the larynx (voice box)
Patients with severe facial deformity in Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar Es Salaeem
Preliminary Meeting with the health minister, Nassor Mazrui and chief medical officer Zanzibar to discuss collaboration for providing plastic surgical services in state of Zanzibar
Visit to the operation theatre at Muhimbili National Hospital in
Dar es Salaam
Burn victim with very severe facial deformity

Additionally, we discovered that a significant portion of the population suffered from diabetes, with many experiencing complications such as diabetic foot ulcers. The lack of proper medical care exacerbated their condition, highlighting the urgent need for intervention.

Despite these challenges, we remained undeterred in our mission with a hope of making a positive change. We engaged with local healthcare authorities and initiated discussions to organize reconstructive surgery projects and training programs for local medical professionals. Mr. Sailesh Mehta also created a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with Muhimbili National Hospital (Dar es Salaam) and Mnazi Moja Hospital (Zanzibar). . The healthcare workers we met (including surgeons and nurses) were very receptive to the ideals of our project, particularly our intention to train local surgeons over the next few years.  However, we did encounter some resistance to the implementation of the project.

During our mission with Help Smile Trust in Tanzania, we were privileged to be introduced to key stakeholders in the healthcare landscape by the esteemed physician, Dr. Kaushik Ramaya. Dr. Ramaya’s reputation preceded him, and his guidance proved invaluable as we navigated the intricate healthcare system of Tanzania.

Dr. Kaushik Ramaya with Mr. Shailesh Vadodaria

During the time spent in Tanzania, Mr. Shailesh Vadodaria was deeply moved by the genuine honesty and sincerity displayed by its people. Whether interacting with locals in bustling marketplaces or remote villages, he was struck by their warmth and friendliness.

Entire hotel staff with Help Smile T-shirts in their hand
A very honest hotel staff who returned £600 left by Mr. Vadodaria in his hotel room

In our pursuit to improve healthcare in Tanzania, we received generous support from MACS Clinic in Watford, UK. Through their kindness and generosity, MACS Clinic donated essential surgical equipment to hospitals in Tanzania. This donation not only provided much-needed resources to healthcare facilities but also strengthened our partnership with local institutions, fostering a sense of solidarity in our shared mission.

In addition to medical assistance, we recognized the importance of addressing the holistic needs of the communities we served. With this in mind, we extended our support to orphanages by providing clothing to children in need. This gesture reaffirmed our commitment to uplifting the most vulnerable members of society and ensuring their well-being.

Box of Surgical instruments donated by MACS Clinic for hospitals in Tanzania
Mr. Lakhani and Mr. Vadodaria with bags full of clothes to be donated to orphanages in Tanzania

Help Smile Trust’s ultimate goal is to establish sustainable healthcare services in remote areas of Tanzania, empowering local medical teams to provide essential care independently. We envision a future where every individual has access to quality healthcare, irrespective of their socioeconomic status.

As we navigate through the challenges and obstacles, we remain hopeful that our efforts will pave the way for a brighter future for the people of Tanzania. With perseverance and determination, we strive to turn our dreams into reality, one smile at a time.

In conclusion, the journey of Help Smile Trust in Tanzania is a testament to the power of compassion and solidarity in creating positive change. Through our collective efforts, we aspire and hope to bring smiles to the faces of those in need and sow the seeds for better future. Together, we can make a difference and create a world where kindness knows no boundaries.