For a decade, Ron Knevel has funded his own travel to Nepal twice yearly to help educate children, parents and the wider community in oral health and tooth decay prevention.
His first visit confirmed it was urgently needed.
'After examining the oral health of 350 children in rural communities, we found that only four of them had a healthy mouth. All the others had gum disease and untreated tooth decay,' he said.
'I know oral pain affects kids daily lives – they have problems chewing, sleeping and become self-conscious about their appearance. I wanted to do something about that for these children and this project was borne of that.'
Through the years, Ron has enlisted the help of oral health students from around the globe including The Netherlands, Sweden, Japan and the US. While he has no exact figure on how many Nepalese children he's helped, the numbers would be in the tens of thousands.
Ron has also trained rural women across Nepal in good oral health practice and they've in turn, helped educate their communities. He has been instrumental in helping set up the curriculum development of Dental Hygiene Education in Nepal, the code of ethics and provided education to allow new graduates to become dental hygienist lecturers and instructors.
In announcing Ron as Social Responsibility Award winner for 2014 members of the IFDH and GCDF said they'd been inspired by his dedication to improving the oral health of disadvantaged children.
Ron says he plans to finish what he started back in 2004 and his goal is to make himself redundant. He returns to Nepal early in the New Year.
Catherine Garrett: 9479 6565 / 0418 964 325