Copyright 2021 - Bem Vindo

smiles logoIn conjunction with Dr Heinz-Oliver Siebelist of the Spanish NGO ‘SMILES’, DaM organized a two-week working holiday for a team of Spanish and Portuguese dentists on Santo Antão in August 2016. The aim was to provide the people in the sparsely populated western region of the island with dental treatment free of charge. In cooperation with the public health board and the municipal authority of Porto Novo, we drew up a programme of work taking in six villages Tarrafal de Monte Trigo, Monte Trigo and Bolona in the arid, semi-desert southwestern part, and Ribeira das Patas, Alto Mira and Ribeira da Cruz in the mountainous north-west.

smiles2016 1On Sunday, 31 July, most of the 12-strong dental team arrived in Tarrafal (with four members arriving four days late owing to flight delays). They used two rooms in the school as their quarters, storing their extensive equipment in the apartment belonging to the health centre.

The team began treating patients the very next day. The many people waiting to be seen were each given a piece of paper with a number and their name, and when their number came up they were first seen by the health centre’s nurse. She measured each patient’s blood pressure and made a note of conditions such as diabetes on their ‘file sheet’. They then received their first dental diagnosis and the necessary extractions, fillings, etc. were noted. The patient was then handed over to the dental-treatment team. The rather antiquated dentist’s chair, originally from Mindelo, which had been made available to us was put to good use – a fitting occasion for its being brought back to life! smiles2016 2

However, even in the morning, it grew so hot in the health centre building, despite several fans being used and the curtains being drawn, that it became very a very uncomfortable place to work. Without further ado, the extractions were ‘relocated’ outside beneath a temporary shade roof, the fillings were still done inside. Admittedly, these open-air extractions were (almost literally) a case of ‘out of the frying-pan into the fire’ … Despite the sweltering heat, 66 patients were examined, 95 teeth pulled and 32 fillings done. The plea for the next day was: more shade!

smiles2016 3On the second day in Tarrafal, all the other work was also performed outside next to the health centre. This avoided a lot of tedious walking from A to B (an improvement compared to the first day), and the procedures were reorganized to make things go more smoothly. Another 62 patients were treated, with 53 teeth taken out and 24 fillings provided. All the patients had received dental care by the late afternoon, and the gear was got together for the next day. The plan was for the dental team to go to Monte Trigo by fishing boat – equipment and all – along with DaM chair Jailson and auxiliary nurse Jair Pires. The journey took just over an hour and was a pretty relaxed affair. Disembarking in Monte Trigo was, however, not that easy, with very high waves making the process quite tricky for those not used to it. Nevertheless, the compressor and all the gear were brought ashore safely. The outcome: 42 patients, just as many fillings and 30 extractions. smiles2016 5


The next stop was the community of Bolona, between Porto Novo and Tarrafal and somewhat off the beaten track. There, at the foot of Tope de Coroa (at 1,982 metres, Santo Antão’s highest mountain) about a dozen families live exclusively from goat farming in a tiny hamlet consisting of widely scattered single dwellings. There is no running water or electricity; there are no phones and no mobile network. This made it quite difficult to spread the word that the region’s inhabitants should come to the school on this particular day for dental treatment. Nevertheless, 22 patients found their way to the treatment location; the vital statistics here were 12 teeth filled and 54 teeth pulled. In the afternoon a pick-up truck took the team back to Tarrafal.

smiles2016 6Friday, Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to relaxation. On Friday morning the team went to Porto Novo, where the work equipment was stored. The ‘Smilers’ then drove up to the Cova crater (altitude: 1,200 m) from where they hiked from the crater’s edge down into the green Ribeira de Paúl valley. They checked into a hotel in Vila das Pombas for two days, which provided everyone – including the surfing enthusiasts – with an ideal base for exploring the green side of the island. On Sunday afternoon, the group packed their suitcases once again and returned to Porto Novo before moving on to Ribeira das Patas.

Here, too, the dental team stayed overnight in a school; this time it was the local secondary school, for which the entire region is the catchment area. And that’s where the mobile dental practice was set up the next day: primary examinations and fillings on the school premises, the extractions in a shady spot in the school playground. By nightfall, 130 patients had been treated, with 60 fillings carried out and 363 teeth pulled. On Tuesday morning, the fully equipped dental team drove to the village of Alto Mira some 30 minutes away. There, too, they spent a very long working day at the local posto sanitário, for which the hard statistics were 100 patients, 230 extractions and 55 fillings. Once the gear was packed up, it was on to the next overnight stop - Ribeira da Cruz. The team were too tired to enjoy the amenities in the comfortable house of a local emigrant who had invited them – after dinner, which was very late even by Spanish standards, all everyone could do was fall into bed.

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On this Wednesday in Ribeira da Cruz, the last working day, 88 patients were seen, with 70 fillings provided and 156 teeth extracted. The team worked into the afternoon, and after everything had been packed up, the most uplifting part of this visit to the island’s north-west began: as a thank-you, the dentists and their assistants were invited to a special celebration. After a number of addresses and speeches, the participants were treated to a delicious supper with regional specialities, followed by tocatina (live music). Everybody had a great time, with dancing until late in the night.

On Thursday the team travelled back to Tarrafal where they spent their two final days based in the small lodge, ‘Mar Tranquilidade’. With swimming, surfing, diving, angling and other activities, the time just flew by until the farewell party on the Friday evening. After Jailson and Oliver had said a few words and a Certificate of Participation had been presented, the self-caught fish was served up as a farewell dinner, and a glass or two of ponche de tambarina liqueur were downed together. If it perhaps had a bittersweet taste, it was because everyone knew the cars would have to be ready to leave for Porto Novo at 6 a.m. next morning…

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Mar Tranquilidade


Mar Tranquilidade was launched in October 1999 in the quiet area of Tarrafal de Monte Trigo,

a perfect space to stay. Apartments with thatched roofs or tile , surrounded by an acacia grove. Interspersed with leafy gardens , terraces, balconies and beautiful views. A cozy place that offers quiet places to relax.


The Jeanine Vahldiek Band


The "Jeanine Vahldiek Band ", these are Jeanine Vahldiek and Steffen Haß.

His music, which is dominated by the harp concert 2.10m height Jeanine, and various Steffen percussion instruments, you can hear live in concert on Internet or CD with his third CD " Blank Canvas ", published in December 2014, support the DaM - with € 1 from each CD sold .



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