Health Care

Hilton Head Island resident to give presentation, 'Lessons from Africa'

When Charlie McOuat was a dentist in Cape Cod, Mass., he traveled to Haiti twice to volunteer.

But dentistry in the third-world country consisted of extracting infected teeth that had already done their damage.

"People had extreme dental infections that were affecting the health of their entire body," McOuat said. "It made me feel good, it helped a couple people. But the needs are unbelievable. So (it) did very little for the total need of Haiti."

After retiring to Hilton Head Island 16 years ago, McOuat volunteered at Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry, teaching English to immigrants.

He took the experience he gained there to Ghana, where he taught English in orphanages and small villages and was also part of the polio immunization program there. McOuat traveled there four consecutive years to volunteer before he was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

On July 11, McOuat, who is now cancer free, will present "Lessons from Africa," a second lecture in the World Affairs Council's summer forum held at the Cypress on Hilton Head.

During his hour and a half long presentation, with a question and answer session to follow, McOuat said he hopes to counter any negative images people might have.

"I would like to convey a positive impression of my experience in Africa and the admiration that I have for African people," McQuat said. "So often I think that Africa gets negative press. Well, I've had nothing but positive experiences there. And the kind of people I met there: positive, wonderful people, friendly, curious, smart."

McOuat said he is excited to be healthy enough to return to Africa, and hopes to do so soon.


World Affairs Council of Hilton Head website

Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry website