Our Story


Our Story

Thank you for visiting our website. We are Vicky and Nigel Milne, two Scottish dentists from the beautiful town of Dunoon where we run an NHS family dental practice, The Hollies. Our story started some years ago after a conversation between Nigel and John Challis of the Raven Trust. John was very keen to have us come out to Malawi to assess the dental needs, particularly in the north of the country where the Raven Trust runs many projects.

In September 2012 we dropped our youngest child off at university, packed our bags and set off for Malawi. The idea was to look at what dental services were available and see what other help might be needed – and how and if we could assist. After a life changing trip we returned to Scotland with the realisation that the dental services in Malawi were, and still are very poorly supported and that the Malawian Government has many other priorities for healthcare. We found that our colleagues in Malawi were battling against slim odds yet still resiliently carrying out dental treatment in incredibly difficult circumstances.

After some reflection, we decided to form Smileawi, initially as part of the Raven Trust but with the eventual plan to become a charity in our own right. In early 2016 Smileawi became a charity and was awarded the charity number SC046434 and so the story continues.

Since 2012 we have revisited Malawi every year and on each visit we have carried out pain clinics helping many thousands of people who otherwise would still be suffering. We have raised a lot of money through generous donations and as a result we have now bought enough equipment to run a five chair portable clinic which we have taken out to many different rural areas. Our clinics are set up in classrooms, churches or existing clinics and through this we have removed thousands of painful teeth for many grateful patients. Over the years we have taken with us many self-funded volunteers; dentists, dental nurses and others from all walks of life who have had life changing experiences helping Smileawi with our work.

We have brought together the existing dental professionals from Northern Malawi encouraging them with our help to work together to build a better service for their population. We hold an annual Smileawi conference in Mzuzu every September which gives the therapists an opportunity to meet up for a day of education and a chance to discuss their individual and common challenges.
In March 2017 Smileawi started funding Lusekero Kyumba to study dental therapy at the college of Health Sciences in Lilongwe. Lusekero is a native Malawian who was born in Karonga in 1983, one of seven siblings now married to Mary a nurse at David Gordon Memorial Hospital in Livingstonia with whom he has a daughter Lutengano meaning "Peace", Lusekero has moved almost 500km from home to study and in 3 years time when he gains his qualification he has promised to return to Livingstonia to work as a dental therapist in the hospital clinic. He has left his wife and daughter in Livingstonia and sees very little of them due to his study committments and the expense of travel. Everyone involved in Smileawi is very proud of Lusekero and we wish him every success.

Smileawi helps Malawi one tooth at a time.

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Latest News & Updates

5th Jun 2017

Another successful trip

Nigel and Vicky have returned safely home after a worthwhile visit to Malawi. During their 2 week visit they visited 14 different sites including the College of Health Sciences in Lilongwe where dental therapists are trained. They gathered useful information about all the therapists and their work...

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