PARSIPPANY — Local Parsippany resident, Pratik Pathak traveled over 8,000 miles to Saraspur, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India to distribute 1,000 dental hygiene kits containing a toothbrush and toothpaste.
“Every six months, see your dentist. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Seems like common knowledge for people all around the world. It’s not until I traveled 8,000 miles eastward that I realized this was not so. I visited Saraswati Vidya Mandal School in Saraspur, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India and found it to be one of the most humbling experiences of my life,” said Pathak.
He continued “Through contact with the Arpan Trust and assistance from my local dentist, I had collected and created about 1,000 dental hygiene kits containing a toothbrush and toothpaste expecting to teach a couple of children from lower-class backgrounds about dental hygiene. Upon entering the school and speaking with the principal, I immediately was forced to discard all my expectations. The fact that these students from ages 6 to 11 had never even heard of the word “dentist” was completely foreign to me. To the best of my ability, with aid from a dentist, I educated these children about dental hygiene using their native tongue of Gujarati. After distributing my kits and seeing the looks of pure joy on the children’s faces, I realized I had gained so much from this experience. For the first time, I was able to see the world from a different point of view, that of a “developing nation.” No longer can I take for granted something so seemingly basic as the opportunity to have clean teeth. The people in that school, teachers, students, and administrators alike, had no previous opportunities at the knowledge that I had been told every single day of my life.”