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Burma Dental Volunteers
- the background:

Following a chance encounter whilst on holiday in Burma in March 2012, Sharon Bierer (SB) and Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen (HON) organised a trip to Inle Lake in November 2012 to provide dental care to orphans at the Mein Thauk orphanage, around the Lake.

During the period of 6th to 21st November 2012, HON, SB, Dr Zar Ni Ye Myint and his wife Dr May Myat San (both NHS Dentist employees, here in capacity of Burmese dentists) and Mrs Lesley Naismith, senior manager with dental software company, Software of Excellence, here in capacity of dental nurse treated patients around Lake Inle.

During this first trip, we worked at the Metta Hospital in Ywa Ma with one dental chair, a side room with a hospital bed and portable x-ray machine. There was access to an autoclave.

At the Shwe Taung Tan orphanage

« All the orphans from Mein Thauk Orphanage, 64 children

« 370 local people who came to the hospital having become aware that there was a dental service available

« 250 orphans from the Shwe Taung Tan orphanage, 7 miles from Taunggyi

« 550 school children from the Free school run by monks, Monastic Middle School attached to the orphanage

« 30 school children from Mein Thauk Government primary school.

We also provided: Oral Health Education has been give in Burmese, run by one of our Burmese colleagues, for all the children plus another 130 local children from around the hospital. Fluoride varnish has been applied to all the children from the orphanages and school children.

Our funding for the first trip
was provided as follows:

The cost of airfares from London to Bangkok, Bangkok to Rangoon, Rangoon - Heho and accommodation for SB, HON, ZNYM and MMS were paid from personal funds by SB and HON.

« Two weeks extra paid holiday leave was paid for by NHS Dentist for ZNYM and MMS.

« LN fundraised at SOE and raised £1500 in 6 months which paid for one half of her flights and accommodation. She paid the remainder from personal funds Fundraising included a skydive.

« SOE provided EXACT practice management software for the laptop.

The following companies and organisations have generously sponsored Burmadent by providing their services free:

Henry Schein
- dental materials and equipment

Software of Excellence
- staff and software

Dental IT Limited
- hardware support and hosting services

Cast Creative Ltd
- design and ongoing web maintanance

Burma Dental Volunteers -
What do we want to do in the future?

Provide a regular dental service around Lake Inle.


Widespread prophylaxis around Lake Inle through fluoride varnish and oral health education.


For whom do we want to provide it? The 200,000 residents living around Lake Inle and the hill villages, most of whom are too poor to travel let alone to access dentistry.


Present situation

According to local information, there is only one Government employed dentist in the local area (Nyaung Shwe on the Lake). There is a dentist who comes from the state capital of the Shan province, Taunggyi who provides free dentistry every Wednesday for the first 20 people at Aye Thar Yar Township. Patients queue from the early hours of the morning to be amongst the first 20. There is one dental x-ray machine in the Government hospital in Taunggyi. Currently, it is too expensive for patients to travel around the lake. Many families eat breakfast but no lunch as they have to wait for their day's wages to buy food for the evening meal. Transport to a dental clinic is beyond their means.


A local benefactor, U Ohn Maung intends to equip a new dental surgery attached to his free dispensary in Aye Thar Yar Township. This is a five minute walk from the Shwe Taung Tan orphanage and school and a number of very poor villages. We believe the room can accommodate two chairs and we hope that donors in the UK will assist in raising the funds to allow the second chair to be installed within the next six months.


What do we need? - YOU

1. Dentists to volunteer, paying their own air fare and accommodation. See 'Costs' page for approximate prices.


2. Companies or individuals to provide us with free dental materials.


3. Funding to provide a second dental chair for the surgery at Shwe Taung Tan Prosperity Dispensary in Aye Thar Yar Township.


4. General funding for local transport, local staff and toothbrushes as giveaways to children.


5. To train a dental nurse, Miss Tin Win Kyi for 6 months at NHS Dentist, London under the supervision of the head nurse and Burmese dentist, Zar Ni Ye Myint. Miss Kyi needs to learn fluent English so she can translate for the visiting foreign dentists accurately. Accommodation to be provided for Miss Kyi at SB and HON's home.

Information for volunteers

Please check with Sharon Bierer on burmadent@gmail.com to make sure the dates you want to volunteer are available at the clinic.
This will be organised by Dr Khin Maung Zaw, the Medical Superintendent of Sitagu Ayudana Hospital, Sagaing Hills, Sagaing, Burma. He is the senior medical administrator working for Sitagu Sayadaw. You will only have to email that you are part of the volunteering charity working with U Ohn Maung proforma letter. Don't forget to write down the dates you are visiting Burma. Don't forget to scan your letter of good standing and CV and send it together in an email to the address on the letter
Please also copy in Sharon Bierer on burmadent@gmail.com and tourdeinle@gmail.com.
You will then receive an invitation (by email) from Dr Khin Maung Zaw which may not seem like an invitation but it is! You can then book your international flights and inform U Ohn Maung on tourdeinle.com who will then start organising your internal travel arrangements. Please note you cannot get a visa before you book your travel arrangements. This is a risk but we have never had anyone refused. See "Itinerary" and "Visa" sections below.
DOWNLOAD: Letter Template (ZipFile)/ Letter Template WordDoc / Volunteering Form
London to Rangoon, via Bangkok from approx. £590 per person. Rangoon to Heho approx. £210 per person. (NB: luggage is deposited just inside the arrivals hall, not on a carousel and you have to be watching carefully for it to arrive).
In general the cost of accommodation is from $50 per night (for double occupancy). In the middle of town with restaurants and shops within easy reach. Luxury hotels are available around the Lake, just indicate your preference for modest, luxury or super luxury.
From Heho to Lake Inle. Lake Inle to hospital or infirmary, usually provided free by local benefactor, U Ohn Maung.
Once your international flights are booked, please send the details to U Ohn Maung's travel company on tourdeinle.com and say that you are coming as a dental volunteer for Burmadent. Give them the details of your requirements for instance luxury hotel or the cheaper one detailed on our website and any post volunteering travel you would like to do around Burma. They will then organise your internal travel from Rangoon to Lake Inle.
Lunch provided free by hospital staff (we give a donation to the hospital at the end of the trip of $40). Infirmary staff may well do the same thing. The food is home cooked and absolutely delicious. They will cater for vegetarians.
Plenty of places to eat, western and local foods. Price for a dinner will be no more than $10 per person.
Travcour (UK) can arrange this for you for the cost of approximately £55. They are efficient and quick. Their details are info@travcour.com or visainquiry@travcour.com. Address: Collingham House, 6-12 Gladstone Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QT. Tel: 020 8543 1846. It will take up to 3 weeks for the whole process. Ensure you say that you are a "tourist and dental volunteer working at Sitagu Metta Hospital in Ywa Ma, Lake Inle" on the application. This gives you the protection of Sitagu Sayadaw who is a famous monk who administers all these hospitals around the country providing free treatment for the poor.

Unfortunately, the Burmese Embassy only issues visas for 3 month stays and they start from the date you apply. You cannot apply in advance. So, you will have to buy your tickets without a visa. This has not proved a problem for us and Travcour are very confident that visas will be forthcoming. So for instance, if you are travelling on 1st January to 15th January, you should not apply for a visa until 1st November at the earliest. This will give you enough time to get the visa but will cover the whole of your trip and give you two weeks allowance in case of change of plans, bad weather etc which hinders your departure on your planned date.
Malaria tablets (2 weeks supply approx. £70), Hepatitis A (approx. £45), Hepatitis B (all dentists will have this already), Rabies (approx. £195 course of 3) and Typhoid (3 tablets for approx. £50 which is a whole course). It is assumed that you will have had all the normal childhood inoculations (measles, diphtheria etc) and have an up to date tetanus booster.
Lake Inle average day temperatures in centigrade and monthly rainfall in inches are as follows:-
January 25 negligble
February 27 ditto
March 31 ditto
April 32 2"
May 30 6 1/2";
June 27 7 1/2"
July 27 8"
August 26 10"
September 27 9 1/2"
October 27 7"
November 25 2 1/2"
December 24 1/2"
Money & Credit Card
Take US dollars - small notes. They should be pristine, no folds, marks, turned over corners. Also do not take dollars with the serial number beginning with CB as they will not be accepted. Even tips cannot be given with marked dollars as they are useless in this country.


Credit Cards are almost unused. If you do find a hotel that will take them they will charge you a hefty % charge. You can change dollars into Kyat (pronounced chat) reasonably easily at the airport. You cannot get it before you arrive in Burma. US$ ($1 is approximately 800 kyats).
Time Difference
The time difference is 6 1/2 hours AHEAD of GMT. Bangkok is confusingly 1/2 hour AHEAD of Rangoon so if you travel via Thailand you will change your watches twice.
General Information
Burma has around 60 million population and the main language is Burmese. However, many Burmans (a tribe) do not understand the local languages spoken around the Lake by the other tribes in the country. Rangoon (Yangon) is not officially the capital city any longer but no one but the Military Government seems to know much about the official capital and no one seems to go there. Rangoon is still the main city in Burma.
Lake Inle
Is 7 miles wide at its widest and 14 miles long. It is surrounded by high grassy hills where many of the tribes live. The Lake is very shallow. The Phaung Daw Oo Paya is one of the most revered sites in Burma and there is a very famous festival in October when the buddhas from the temple are taken around the Lake in huge open barges. You will be able to visit floating markets where the Lake tribes, the Intha people mingle with the hill tribes. Many of the buildings including the hospital are on the Lake and access is by long boat, driven by one of the very competent local boatmen.
General Advice
Your mobile phone will not work - if you can't live without one, then you can hire one at Rangoon airport. The cost is approximately $2 per day with $50 deposit. At the airport there is the Yatanapon rental service. You do not need to order in advance. You will be able to use a computer at your hotel as it has wifi. You will be able to buy wonderful cotton, silk and lotus fibre scarves, shawls, shirts etc - they are very reasonably priced.


Take a small bottle of hand disinfectant to use before you eat.

Drink bottled water.

Avoid street food.

Take malaria tablets.

Take from UK malaria spray that contain DEET and use it at dusk, evenings and night. Wear long sleeves.

Take loose, cotton clothing - modest

Take a loose rain cover for the months November to February

Take a cardigan for the evenings

Take medical uniforms, you can wash them out at night.

If you would like to donate, however small an amount, please pay through Pay Pal (will be online soon).



5 th June, 3rd July, 4th Sept., 2nd Oct.
all 2013
All BDA Metropolitan branch meetings
23rd June 2013 Iben Rohde Jensen hygienist at NHS Dentist, Fulham, is taking part in the half marathon in Hamburg on behalf of Burmadent. Donations can be made at Justgiving.
12th Oct. Burmaball
to be held at Eight, Private Members Club in the City.
Start time: 7.00pm
Tickets available at
£95.00 each.
Tables for 10 or 12 people available.

Contact & Donation

If you would like to know more, volunteer or donate material or money;
Please get in contact with Sharon Bierer

If you would like to Volunteer, please download these two documents: Letter Template / Volunteering Form

Please make a donation to our work in Burma:

Donate with JustGiving and PayPal

Share us with your friends

Burmadent Fundraising

The inauguration of the new dental surgery at the Free Dispensary, now open for treatment. We are currently fundraising to provide a second chair in this surgery. (see large image in the gallery)


Burmadent:  inauguration of the new dental surgery at the Free Dispensary, now open for treatment. We are currently fundraising to provide a second chair in this surgery

Make a donation to our work in Burma today!

Donate with JustGiving and PayPal
Burmadent - UK Charity #1150468
Our Trustees:

Sharon Ruth Bierer - Trustee

Dr Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen - Trustee

Lesley-Anne Naismith - Trustee

Brian Weatherly - Trustee