AT the March meeting of the Holmer WI, Fiona Hanks and her husband Will, both dentists, spoke to members about the work of the Peace and Hope Trust.

The Trust helps with maternity issues, dentistry and general health, teaching and awareness raising, community building projects, collecting and storing medical and educational equipment and material, and has set up Casa Rehab projects (refuges for women) in Nicaragua.

For periods during the last six years, they have been based near Bluefields, Nicaragua, which is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The area has very few roads and is very sparsely populated - the landscape being covered by volcanoes, lakes and forests.

The Peace and Hope Trust was formed to use hovercrafts as a way to access remote communities, where the populations are largely Mesquite Indians and descendants of escaped slaves whose native tongues are a mixture of Creole and Spanish.

Fiona and Will, together with several other people from the UK, use their professionalism as dentists to great effect in this very poor country.

The people generally have terrible teeth, caused by sugary drinks and a local propensity to chew the sugar cane that they grow.

On a typical day in their makeshift but sterile surgery, Fiona and Will might see between 70 and 80 patients and carry out 100 extractions. The people are so poor that they can only afford to buy one or two individual paracetamol tablets to help with the subsequent pain. In addition, the couple also teach dental hygiene.

They have started a new project to enhance the failing eyesight of some Nicaraguans by taking out old and used spectacles from this country to help the impoverished people, for further information contact 07517281394.

As part of a recent request from Will and Fiona, members of the Holmer WI made maternity dresses to be taken out to the pregnant women in Nicaragua. They were gratefully received.

The talk was illustrated throughout by slides - including pictures of the maternity dresses - which truly underlined the poverty of the people as well as the difficult working conditions in Nicaragua. Maureen Graver gave a vote of thanks which was followed by a sustained round of applause.

Holmer WI next meets on Wednesday, April 3 at St Mary's Church, Grandstand Road at 7.30pm, when Mark Helme will talk about Bhutan and Tanzania.

New members will be made welcome.