Aspiring Dental Student Journeys to Serve in Tanzania
Through Journey to Serve, Rise Against Hunger’s partnership with Global Volunteers, an aspiring dental student and her dentist father were moved to help meet the needs of families and children in the Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Demonstration Project in Ipalamwa, Tanzania. What followed her first informational phone call was an impassioned appeal to her family, friends and faith community to join her in spirit and charity. Currently serving in Tanzania, we are sharing the incredible journey that got Maddy and her father where they are now!
Maddy Aungst, a 22-year-old biology student in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, said the moment she read about the RCP Demonstration Project, she was motivated to help.
She shares, “I found Global Volunteers on the Rise Against Hunger website, which works with my church packing food. I researched more and discovered Journey to Serve is exactly the type of volunteer opportunity I’ve been looking for. Instantly, my heart gravitated towards Tanzania. I was excited.”
Prior to Journey to Serve, Maddy had been discouraged by volunteering programs that required her to have a medical license. She shared, “I’m graduating from college in May and taking a gap year before attending dental school. However, since I am not a qualified dentist or professional, a lot of volunteer programs don’t allow me to have hands-on involvement with their health care projects.”
Fortunately, Volunteer Manager Diane Fredricksen assured her she could make a significant contribution through Journey to Serve in Tanzania. Initially, Maddy couldn’t imagine just how significant her impact would be.
Maddy explains, “Diane was marvelous. She explained how people of Ipalamwa without access to toothbrushes just use sticks to clean their teeth. That’s when it really hit home — and how my idea for raising money to supply toothbrushes came about. After all, we here in the U.S. take so much for granted. We often forget that a simple ‘hygiene tool’ such as a toothbrush can do so much for our oral health as well as our overall health. I wanted to give the people of Ipalamwa the opportunity to improve their health and live happier lives.”
As soon as Maddy registered for the Journey to Serve partnership, she launched a fundraising campaign to provide toothbrushes to the children in the village. The initial goal for “Don’t Brush It Off; Be the Change” was $1,000 to supply toothbrushes. However, after her father, an experienced dentist, agreed to join her on the service program, she knew they would have to purchase all of the equipment and supplies he would need to provide more extensive oral healthcare.
Maddy explained, “My father, Dr. Bryan Aungst, is a general dentist, and was on board right away. He too had always wanted to serve on a volunteer program and was the first dentist to register to work in the new clinic. So, that’s how my fundraising goal quickly increased.”
Maddy worked toward her fundraising goal by leveraging a GoFundMe page so her neighbors, church family, and community could easily donate online. She also promoted the fundraiser on social media and found other creative ways to raise money.
She says, “My mom and I got involved with our neighborhood yard sale and put all the proceeds towards my campaign. I spoke at my grandparents’ church and they helped me collect $200, which is unbelievable for such a small church. The biggest success I had fundraising was reaching out to my church, the First United Methodist Church in Hollidaysburg. I spoke at all five services. Before my presentation, I had collected $2,100. After my presentation, I had raised $4,300. Unbelievable! I was absolutely amazed by the overwhelming support and encouragement.”
One parishioner from Blair Gastroenterology raised $1,000 for Maddy’s effort. “You can imagine my surprise when I received the check,” she said, “So far, I’ve raised $6,010 and am still getting cash donations from my church as well as toothbrush donations from my friends.”
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be able to raise that much money. I didn’t think I was capable of touching the hearts of so many people. I am so overwhelmed by the love and support that my church and community have shown me. They are thrilled and eager for me to go, return, and then finally share my adventures with them.”
Stay tuned for more from Maddy and her father’s time in Tanzania as they change the lives of those they are serving! To follow in Maddy’s footsteps and make your impact, visit the Journey to Serve page on our website.