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Safari N Smiles

Articles, Editors Pick

There are movers, shakers, and rule breakers. Dentistry is abundant in all three. The truly remarkable person, however, is the change-maker who seeks paradigmatic transformation.

A paradigm shift is, “An important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or  doing something is replaced by a new and different way.”

Meet Morris Mugo, dental hygienist and citizen of the Republic of Kenya. While he is currently licensed to practice in Washington DC, Maryland, & Virginia, he aspires to do more than clean teeth and treat periodontal disease. Growing up in an orphanage in Kenya, Morris experienced the disparity in medical and dental care firsthand. 

Arising from a passion to change and touch as many lives as possible, Safari N Smiles was born. By merging epic safari experiences with dental mission trips, travelers could experience the beauty of his country, while giving back to the inhabitants of his homeland. Mugo set out to educate, separating the myth of the media’s portrayal of his country, from what he calls, the real Africa.

Realizing it would be difficult to make an impact by himself, he began sharing his passion for dentistry and the people of Kenya. He recognized the challenges would be great: transporting equipment, licensing, supplies, and organizing travel arrangements, but found his purpose met by charitable dental professionals who wanted to give back. Doctors and hygienists began to offer their help, their equipment, their hands, and hearts.

A Safari N Smiles trip involves many facets that tickle the senses, and tug at the heart.  The first aspect involves a safari; animals in their natural habitat as they reside in magnificent native scenery. Next is the cultural aspect. Travelers trek across villages and regions, meet and interact with Maasai villagers, and visit coffee and tea farms. Visitors learn about the agricultural aspects of farming, harvesting, drying, and processing popular African coffees. 

The next, and most life-changing part of the journey, involves working in the orphanages.  This is a chance to share more than clinical skills. It is an opportunity to change lives forever. Interacting with local children leaves an indelible mark on participants by creating lifelong bonds, and reminding us that not everyone is as blessed as Americans. 

Finally, choice speakers present continuing education on an array of topics at the forefront of our dynamic profession. This affords doctors and practice owners the ability to write off expenses for additional tax benefit. In addition, it gives dental professionals the ability to earn continuing education while making an impact on communities a world away.

Trips are scheduled at various times throughout the year, and the itinerary is evolving. At press time, there are three trips scheduled for 2023. In June, a trip is scheduled to Kenya for a Dental Mission & Safari. Late summer (August), a Wildebeest Migration Safari & Charity Outreach will take place. The final trip of the year is scheduled for November, which will be a Safari & Outreach.  While plans continue to develop, a mission is ongoing to Ghana in March 2024. Payment plans are available, and a $100 discount is being offered to Nifty Thrifty followers. Families and non-dental friends are welcome.

As for imminent and future plans, Mugo is actively pursuing the finalization of becoming a non-profit organization, and dreams of a full time clinic in Kenya, complete with permanent teams on location. Let’s pray this dream becomes a reality. 

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