Driving east from the city of Amman the flat stony plain of Jordan’s eastern desert extends hundreds of kilometers all the way to the border with Iraq and beyond to Baghdad. It’s the least populated region of Jordan with few roads that link the isolated towns and villages. For most visitors to Jordan this place is not usually on the itinerary. Other than a few early- Islamic inns or “desert castles” there is little to see. Recently, our project director in Jordan) led a dental team into the eastern desert to work with the local bedouins in this harsh remote area. They traveled to the small Bedouin community of Al Ruwayshi where they operated a mobile dental clinic.
Our project leader writes:
There’s not much out there, other than sand, rocks, camels and sheep. Yet for the Bedouin this is home. I always wonder how people survive and, in fact, many of the men who came to the clinic said that they had no work (although they do manage money for cigarettes). Though the people are poor, we feel that it’s important that patients have ownership of their treatment, so we charge them about 75 cents to a $1.50 per treatment. We did 25 treatments each day on some pretty sad-looking teeth, gave away toothbrushes, and tried to entertain the young boys who hang out because there’s nothing better to do! Despite the long line-ups, we took the time to talk to each patient to educate them about their teeth, and tried to encourage them to take care of them, from the littlest child to the oldest grandmother. We gave them choices as to what they wanted us to do. I loved it every time one of the women, completely covered in black, whipped off her head covering because she knew she could trust us