THE TOOTHBRUSH PROJECT
Junkies caught up with Amber and Georgie to learn about The Toothbrush Project.
Amber Jones and Georgie Debenham became friends through childhood and spent countless hours on the school bus together. After graduating from school, they both took a gap year where they spent a few months in rural Cambodia.
“We were in Cambodia primarily to teach English at a small language school in Kampot, however the poor condition of the students teeth became apparent to us very early on”, says Georgie. “Some of their teeth were completely black, others rotted through to the gums. When we asked another teacher how often the students brush their teeth he looked at us blankly and said, "they don't". Having grown up in Australia, hearing that was a pretty big shock and we couldn't stop thinking and talking about it. We decided we wanted to raise enough money to provide each student and their family with a toothbrush and toothpaste, so we set up a Facebook group amongst family and friends with a request for donations. We raised far more than we'd expected and we realised this was something we needed to put in place to last years ahead, from there, The Toothbrush Project was born.”
Now, Amber is a dedicated youth worker and Georgie works in media. Although both are very busy; Amber and Georgie have always found time for The Toothbrush Project.
“We provide dental hygiene supplies”, adds Georgie. “In order to achieve and maintain healthy teeth and gums, basic tools must be available. We provide children with toothbrushes and toothpaste every three months to safeguard the longevity of their teeth and their health. The Toothbrush Project also makes sure that people have access to safe drinking water as well as a basin or sink so they can brush their teeth.”
“We understand that if a child doesn't know why they are brushing their teeth, they probably aren't going to do it. For this reason The Toothbrush Project places high importance on hygiene education. We value education. We ensure classes of this nature are given weekly, covering topics across all areas of hygiene. We also employ a woman from the local community, and pay for her to be adequately trained to teach children. This guarantees that the education is ongoing. We believe that with the knowledge and understanding, a practice can turn into an intentional habit, changing lives for good, and not temporarily. It is so important to us that the project comes from the locals. We may be the driving force behind it all, but the inspiring men and women distributing the products and running the classes, we owe it all to them.”
The Toothbrush Project has been working the Chumkriel community (located in the city of Kampot) for the past five years to build the project and create sustainable habits.
Twice a year, they provide access to a local dentist for all of the children involved. “Having access to a dentist gives a child an opportunity to wipe slates clean, start fresh and address any serious emerging issues promptly”, explains Georgie.
To fund their project, they sell bamboo toothbrushes online. They also sell the toothbrushes at markets on the Mornington Peninsula, and are stocked in various stores listed on their website
“Our products not only look amazing in the bathroom, they are 100% good for your teeth [thanks to the medium bristles]”, Georgie tells us. “More importantly, they are sustainable and compostable, leaving little impact on our precious earth.”
At just $5 each (and with free shipping within Australia), all profits go directly towards helping those in need of dental care! When you buy one toothbrush, you are supplying two to someone who needs it more.