Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, wasn’t quite what Bob Malloy expected it to be.
“They’re the nicest people,” Malloy said. “I did not have one negative experience.”
The Bozeman orthodontist recently spent two weeks teaching orthodontics to students at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania on the east coast of Africa.
The two-week trip through Health Volunteers Overseas. The organization sends healthcare professionals around the globe, though for orthodontists, the choice of destinations is a bit slimmer.
“Orthodontics is sort of limited,” Malloy said. “You can go anywhere and pull teeth. It’s a little more difficult to find orthodontics places to go.”
While in Africa, Malloy both lectured students and provided hands-on training. Lectures held 30 to 40 students while hands-on activities he said were whittled down to smaller groups.
Malloy, who has been an orthodontist in Bozeman for 13 years, had to tweak his teaching tactics.
“Everything I would reach for, they didn’t have,” Malloy said. “I had to adjust as I went.”
Despite the lack of resources, Malloy helped his students successfully put braces on eight children during his two weeks at the school.
While Tanzanians speak Swahili, Malloy said the language barrier didn’t get in the way too much.
“Lecture wise, I probably lost a few,” he said with a grin.
But many of his students and patients enjoyed the Kentucky native’s slight southern drawl, he said.
Malloy, 53, is a high school biology teacher turned dentist turned orthodontist.
Being an orthodontist is a much more pleasant job than being a dentist, Malloy said.
“Patients usually want to be here. There’s not near the pain. To me, it’s a much nicer environment,” Malloy said.
Malloy hopes to again travel with Health Volunteers Overseas, next time to Vietnam.
Whitney Bermes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.