Bringing smiles and dental care to Djibouti

Protecting a child’s smile is an important first step in protecting a child’s health.

U.S. Army Sergeant Volanta Stovall, a dental hygienist, shared her expertise on the subject earlier this year with children in Djibouti.

Stovall and a team from the Army’s Civil Affairs Functional Specialty Team, Southern European Task Force–Africa, worked with teachers from the Association of We’a Women to lead a dental hygiene class for children. We’a is a town in Djibouti.

“I love engaging with children who can start their dental care at a young age and gain the knowledge to avoid oral diseases throughout their lives,” Stovall said.

During the class in We’a in August, children aged 4 through 6 learned about nutrition and proper brushing techniques. Stovall brought a large model of teeth so students could take turns practicing brushing.

The goal of the class was to educate children about dental health and to train the teachers.

Girl holding up bright pink bag (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Andrew Kobialka)
A schoolgirl holds a bag with dental products provided by the U.S. Army during a class in We’a, Djibouti. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Andrew Kobialka)

“We are really grateful for the visit,” said Aizha Radwan Farah, a schoolteacher with the Association of We’a Women. “As we learn, we become even more interested to learn more and are excited to teach others in the community.”

The oral hygiene class is part of the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security, which enables women to take a leading role in areas that are recovering from conflict.

“WPS initiatives help strengthen Civil Affairs efforts among women organizations in Djibouti and provide a blueprint in East Africa,” Stovall said.

The United States assisted more than 14,000 women in conflict resolution efforts and trained more than 43,000 women in security and criminal justice worldwide from 2019 to 2020, according to the 2021 Women, Peace and Security Congressional Report.