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Safari Soiree Touches Lives Around the World
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Dan and Linsey Nelson were two of the instigators of the soiree, along with Dan’s dental colleague Jared Hill and his wife Maren.
   
Thursday, June 27, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Mountain Humane took on the appearance of a safari village in Tanzania this past week as two Hailey dentists threw a Safari Soiree.

A hundred-year-old hand-carved fertility statue from Mtuara stood prominently in the silent auction area alongside two smaller Maasai warriors carved from Jacaranda wood. And, in keeping with the theme, a Sawtooth Safari was on the auction block, along with a Jeep perfect for navigating the “jungles” of Idaho—or, at least the Gem State’s rock-strewn backroads.

The event, catered by Steve and Becky Ludwig, was the inspiration of Hailey dentists Daniel Nelson and Jared Hill, who co-founded the Dental Legacy Foundation with Ryan Passey.

 
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Shanell Nelson, a dental assistant who hopes to take a humanitarian trip to Tanzania with her colleagues, shows off the Maasai warrior statues, along with Allan Smith, who found his safari outfit at The Attic thrift store.
 

The dentists, along with some of their staff, have gone to a remote village in Tanzania to provide dental care. And on their last visit they decided to throw the soiree to raise money to help the village’s St. Gaspar Hospital equip a new neo-natal intensive care unit with crash carts, CPAP machines, portable ventilators and an oxygen system.

“We spent two weeks there in 2022 where we saw between 300 and 500 patients and got a beautiful warm welcome,” said Nelson. “Here, when we have a dental problem, we suffer with a little pain until we can get to the dental office. There, they suffer with infections that can sometimes become fatal because they don’t get treated.”

There are only 250 dentists for a country of 70 million people there. Put another way, there’s one dentist per 400,000 people in Tanzania versus one per 1,650 in the United States. Three-quarters of Tanzanian children have never seen a dentist.

“We established one of the only dental labs in the country to restore missing front teeth so people can get food,” said Hill. “We hired a dental therapist for a clinic and this year we’re hiring a full-time dentist.”

 
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Brittney Penberthy and Drew Mitchell get set for their Safari Soiree next to a giraffe that must’ve seemed odd to the dogs and cats at Mountain Humane.
 

The Dental Legacy Foundation has partnered with the Italian Dental Society and together they’ve made five trips during which they tended to a thousand patients, performed 3,000 procedures and educated 6,000 people about how to take care of their teeth and gums.

“The goal is to do nine trips a year, whether us or others,” said Hill. “And we want to open another clinic.”

The group hasn’t limited their air to taking care of tooth decay, periodontal disease, root infections and other teeth problems.

When the Foundation’s board member Jared Galovich noticed that the trees in the agricultural fields were wilting, he learned that the town did not have water for its agricultural fields or even for people to drink during the dry season. So, he helped them build a 60,000-gallon water tank on a mountain overlooking the area that can support 25,000 people.

 
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Tana Stahn shows off one of the art pieces being auctioned off.
 

Now, he’s working on women’s dorms for young women who are attending a trade school.

“The girls often have to walk dirt roads for hours to get to and from school and sometimes they get sexually assaulted while doing that,” said Galovich, who has also helped with projects providing English instruction and computer classes. “We’re building the dorms so they don’t have to risk assault while going to school.”

And then there’s the money being raised for neonatal care in an area with many infants die within an hour of birth.

Father Justin Boniface Mwanyelo, making his first visit to the United States from Tanzania, thanked those attending the soiree for their help.

 
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This impressive Maasai sword was among the auction items.
 

“Together we envision a future where no Tanzanian suffers due to a lack of care,” said Mwanyelo, who was treated to golf and rafting while here. “This collaboration between the dental society and St. Gaspar’s is vital. We’re creating a lasting bond that will continue for years to come, making a profound difference in the lives of Tanzanians.”

The live auction included some unique packages including a five-day houseboat trip for six on Lake Powell provided by Hill, his wife Maren and surfing instructors; a cosmetic makeover from Wood River Dental; a Rancho Santana retreat in Nicaragua; five nights in a jungle treehouse in El Salvador, and a humanitarian journey-safari adventure in Tanzania that includes time spent helping the Tanzanians while exploring what’s believed to be the Cradle of Life where the first humans originated.

“This is an opportunity to give to a truly underserved part of the world,” said Nelson.

To learn more, visit https://www.dentallegacyfoundation.org/.

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