Dentists for Africa – Our Moral and Ethical Principles

Since our foundation in 1999, we have learned a lot from our Kenyan partners and employees. Our goal is to implement our projects in such a way that the Kenyans can benefit from them in the long term. Ultimately, we want our Kenyan partners and colleagues to manage and take over the projects independently.

Five principles are particularly important for the sustainable implementation of our projects:

1. Cooperating as equal partners

Respectful cooperation between Germany and Kenya is particularly important to us. This includes honesty and transparency. We value the opinions and perspectives of our Kenyan colleagues, as their experience allows them to assess how we can implement our projects in the long term. Within equal partnership relations, there is also always room for respectful criticism and discussions in order to find common solutions and improve the work of DfA sustainably.

2. Trust

Working together on equal footing creates trust – we don't want to create hierarchies but rather discuss our ideas together as partners. Trust and cooperation are mutually dependent.

3. Empathy

Empathy is a requirement for trust. Only when we are empathetic towards our fellow human beings can we work together productively and harmoniously. We always try to understand and accept what is going on inside our colleagues in order to be a good team. Especially in an international work atmosphere, empathy is crucial.

4. Respect

Without a great deal of respect, we cannot work productively with each other, especially across different cultures. Respectful interaction is therefore a basic requirement for working at DfA, especially for employees and volunteers who are interested in working in Kenya.

5. Intercultural competence

This principle summarizes the above values while simultaneously going beyond. Respect, empathy, trust, and cooperation at eye level are prerequisites for understanding each other across different background.

Different cultures have different approaches, habits, values and perspectives. We want to approach our projects with an open mind and humility and while being open to different approaches. Looking at each other from above is a no-go, especially in development cooperation.

We particularly urge our volunteers who fly to Kenya and work in the dental units to put these principles into practice. We don't want to lecture anyone in Kenya: we are far more interested in learning from each other in equal parts within an unbiased atmosphere.

At DfA, we generally reflect critically on development cooperation in order to constantly improve ourselves and our work. Our motto: There is always room for improvement, first and foremost for ourselves.