Africa Smiles, Dr. Ahpin’s Charitable Organization, Has Been Providing Dental Services in West Africa Since 2005
Africa Smiles has been Ahpin Dental Centre’s charitable organization providing dental services in Africa since 2005. After our visit to Gabon, Africa, in 2003, Dr. Ahpin was determined to get even more hands-on with the people. He was limited in his ability to be able to provide free dentistry by the hospital we visited, so he decided to set out on his own and make sure he reached people who otherwise had no access to dental services.
In 2005, he successfully established a travelling dental unit, providing all of his own equipment and supplies for visits to Niger, Africa. The equipment needed for dentistry is complex and includes a self-contained unit to provide suction, water and a hand piece. Of course, for this he needed a generator and water supply.
After an initial information-gathering trip to Niger in 2004, he began his first dental mission in January 2005 with the Christian Missionary Alliance Church, which already had an established medical mission regularly travelling to Niger. He travelled with the doctors and nurses to remote regions of Niger, often sleeping under the stars and sometimes working under a tree without the use of his equipment.
Africa Smiles on Healthcare Foundation: Established in 2007
In 2007, he successfully established a charitable organization to accept donations and funding for the dental unit in Niger, Africa. The charity’s name is officially “Africa Smiles on Healthcare Foundation.” Currently, most of the funding comes from Dr. Ahpin himself.
In 2009, we moved our equipment to Bamako, Mali, and began working with Grace Between Nations and Nouhoum Coulibally. Nouhoum is a native of the area and he has a vision to provide a faith-based school, medical clinic and church for his countrymen. In January 2010, Dr. Ahpin travelled to Mali and provided dental services for 250 people in five days. The praise for his efforts was very touching.
Dr. Ahpin and his dental assistant, Adrienne Duffy, went to Mali in March 2012 on a trip organized by Nouhoum and coordinated with the U.S. Peace Corps. They spent three days in the village, a two-hour drive south of Mali’s capital of Bamako, and another three days were spent providing dental services in a town near the village. Over the course of the week, they saw more than 200 patients.
Due to the political unrest resulting from a military coup and rebels in Northern Mali in 2013, Dr. Ahpin did not go to Africa. Continued political unrest and the outbreak of ebola in 2014 have further prevented Dr Ahpin from returning.