Making a difference

A desire to give something back to society through his profession was what motivated Brisbane dentist, Peter Caswell, to go on the Equal Health India camp this year. Peter speaks to Equal Health about his experience on the camp.

Brisbane dentist Peter Caswell speaks to Equal Health about his experience on the India Camp 2013.


What made you want to participate in an Equal Health India camp?

A desire to give something back to society through my profession. A fascination with India was also a contributing factor.


What made you choose to go with Equal Health?

They seemed to be very well organised and efficient with a good mix of Health Care Professionals. This was all confirmed as arrangements were finalised.


What were your first impressions of India and the camp situation?

Having spent some time in Sri Lanka, I thought I was prepared for India. The intensity and frenzy is unable to be appreciated unless experienced personally. Rural India and the Camp were beyond my expectations.


What was the highlight of the 2013 India Camp?

Being in a sea of poverty and deprivation is made more appealing by introducing an element of humour and lightness into the scenario. The Indian psyche is very amenable to this. The people are delightful and appreciative of your assistance. The children of all ages were just a joy to be with.


How does working in India compare to working in Australia?

Clinically, you must be very competent in your profession. Given the staffing, material and equipment limitations you must be aware of what treatment can and cannot be undertaken. There is really no comparison in the working environments. A high level of creativity is essential.


Please tell a story or two about people you treated.

The children were so trusting and cooperative, as were the families. My lingering memory is of a man with Polio who required and requested a tooth extraction. As I picked up this limp almost skeleton like person from the floor and put him in a chair I just welled up emotionally. He was an inspirational young man who spoke reasonable English and was a student. There was no complaining, with just a request for a photo with him, my assistant and me. I covered his deformed limbs for dignity, and obliged. Seeing the photo was sufficient and he left very happy.


How has the camp impacted you, personally and professionally?

Personally, material possessions are less important, with an increased appreciation of family and simple aspects of life as well as good health.


What is your advice to a new volunteer?

Enjoy it all. There is a great balance between work and leisure. You will be very well nurtured by Equal Health personnel. 'A life changing appointment' is a truism for all involved.


Peter Caswell, Dentist, India Camp 2013, Brisbane.