Building student involvement, fostering civic engagement and enhancing community service to advance public health. 

Written by: Sangita Murali (D18)
Photo contributions by: Murali Rajagopalan (Parent of D18)

On August 15th, the South Asian Medical and Dental Association (SAMDA) was invited to celebrate the 69th Anniversary of India’s Independence with the Indian Association of Greater Boston at India Day 2016. TUSDM alumni Dr. Tej Shah (D15), Sonia Chedda (D17) and Sangita Murali (D18) provided oral health education to the local Indian community members.

To cater specifically to our Indian community, SAMDA members brought pamphlets and created a poster to inform India Day attendees about oral cancer risks associated with eating paan, a very popular Indian snack made of betal leaves and sometimes tobacco, two known carcinogens.

To get children excited and engaged at our oral health booth, SAMDA members along with Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE) volunteers used activity books donated by Dr. Neela Gandhi to challenge kids to do dental-related crossword puzzles, draw pictures of the different parts of the tooth such as the crown and the root together, and play matching games to solidify tooth healthy habits such as eating carrots and and brushing our teeth as opposed to drinking soda and eating cupcakes.

The event was held along Boston’s iconic Esplanade at the Hatch Shell and was organized by the Indian Association of Greater Boston to contribute to bring a diverse group of people together and enhance a strong sense of community. Over 200 attendees stopped by the different booths to learn about oral healthcare, diabetes and hypertension. In addition to stopping by the medical and dental booths, several clothing vendors made an appearance at the event displaying gorgeous Indian outfits and ornate jewelry both imported from India and made locally. Attendees additionally enjoyed the out-of-this-world dance performances featuring some of Bollywood’s greatest hits. India Day 2016 was truly one for the books.

Our SAMDA members are grateful for the support from our sponsor and IMANE President Dr. Sapna Aggarwal. We could not have had a more successful event without the guidance and encouragement of our enthusiastic mentors Dr. Neela Gandhi and Dr. Sonalika Rungta who not only donated their time but also many supplies for the event including oral cancer pamphlets, educational activity booklets for children, adult and kids’ toothbrushes, and the list goes on. Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth to learn more about oral cancer, fluoride and any other burning oral health related questions. We would like to thank all the volunteers from IMANE for getting so engaged in our dental booth set up and you were all wonderful to meet and work with. We would last but not least like to extend a hearty thank you to Nancy Marks and Christine Robertson of the Tufts Dental Central Team and Department of Public Health and Community Service who donated their Tufts Dental banner for the event and who have been an instrumental resource for community-related events like these.