Featured Patient – Des Tubridy

Continuing on from our series of recognizing some of the amazing patients we are lucky enough to meet through our dental practice is Dr Des Tubridy.  Des really stood out to us for his motivation and dedication to personally get behind overseas charity projects to make the world a better place piece by piece.  Des was heavily active in his charity work in developing countries despite working tirelessly long hours with his locally based, Australia wide company of Quantum Management Indicators.  He identified worthwhile causes and took steps to support them.  Now retired, Des oversees about 9 projects across 3 countries.

Recently this year with the organization of Des working with Lao-Kids and the Luang Prabang Library, The Smile Team was able to help a remote rural primary school in Laos.  As a quick background, the population of Laos is just over 7 million people, with a life expectancy of about 15 years less than in Australia, spread over 3% of Australia’s land size. 

The school, Hoi Kang Primary School has around 130 students.  The school is located in the province of Luang Prabang, a region known for its historical Buddhist caves.  The children were each given toothbrushes and toothpaste and shown how to brush their teeth. The school was also provided with sporting equipment for all the children.  It was wonderful to see all the kid’s smiles from the photos.   The word for smile in Lao is ຍິ້ມ (nyim), which might just be the most beautiful way we’ve ever seen the word smile written.

In Laos, one significant obstacle to children gaining an education is a lack of text books and reading books.  Text books are in desperately short supply in all rural schools.  The books are reasonably priced but rural students just don’t have the money nor the accessible stores to purchase them.  Lao-Kids has been working with the Luang Prabang Library to provide reading books, text books, and supplies to remote village schools in outreach reading programs.  

Challenges of similar rural projects include trying to make deliveries before the wet season strikes in June.  Narrow unmade roads and swollen rivers can make transportation impossible for deliveries.  Projects include using tuk-tuks as a mobile library, while others use library boats to travel the Mekong to help the many schools along the shores without adequate supplies.  In the past, Des has also been involved in building projects that have required a much more hands on approach, literally.   In the oppressive hot humid South East Asian 40 degree heat, Des and his wife Cindy have been known to run around to organize and provide building supplies.

Thank you Des for sharing with us your passion for helping those who are disadvantaged in developing countries.  Seeing your belief that every individual can make a difference certainly inspires us to contribute and help others in charity projects both overseas and here at home in Australia, and I’m sure it does too for everyone that hears of it.  We learnt a lot about Laos and definitely hope to be a part of future projects.  


Further examples of Lao-Kids charity work in the region can been found via https://www.facebook.com/LaoKids and http://www.lao-kids.org

To see examples of breathtaking waterfalls that exist in Luang Prabang check out tripadvisor.

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