Christchurch Woman Supports NZDF’s Dental Outreach in Samoa
29 May 2019
Providing dental treatment in Southwest Pacific countries is part of the dream job that Lieutenant Amanda Rowe envisioned she would be doing when she enlisted in the New Zealand Army two years ago.
“Many of the people we treated had been in pain for years,” said Lieutenant Rowe, who was part of a 13-member New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent that provided dental treatment in Samoa recently. The NZDF contingent, in collaboration with Samoa’s Ministry of Health, provided dental care and treatment through a clinic at Poutasi village on the southeast coast of the main island Upolu.
“Some of them travelled for hours to get to our clinic, so it felt rewarding to help them and relieve them of their pain.”
She was one of four NZDF dentists who treated 420 patients during Exercise Tropic Twilight, as the dental programme is called.
“The entire team was eager to help people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access oral health care,” she said.
A graduate of the University of Otago, Lieutenant Rowe worked for two years as a dental surgeon at Wellington Hospital before enlisting in the New Zealand Army in 2017.
“I was encouraged by my father, who served in the Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers as a Reservist for 13 years, and my elder brother Jonathan, who’s an officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy,” she said.
“They thought it would be good for me to pursue a career in the NZDF, given my training in dental surgery.”
While growing up in Christchurch, Lieutenant Rowe joined her father and brother in attending the Anzac Day dawn service every year.
“Attending those dawn services with our father taught me and my brother the importance of honouring all those who have served, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said
When she is not deployed overseas, Lieutenant Rowe works at the Defence Dental Centres in Wellington and Waiouru Military Camp, where up to 500 officer cadets and recruits are training at any one time.
“I am the only dentist at Waiouru, so it can be pretty hectic at times. I love the challenge though,” she said.
The NZDF has conducted similar dental treatment programmes recently in Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty, Kaitaia, Vanuatu and Samoa. Lieutenant Rowe took part in the programme in Vanuatu last year.