BY ARMAND KEOSIAN
With all of the philanthropic work being undertaken in our fatherland, Raffi Dadaian, an American-Armenian college student, has found a way to remotely help the youth in Armenia.
“Dental hygiene is commonly overlooked in poverty-stricken regions around the world, including Armenia, for the obvious fact that the population has more pressing concerns such as securing everyday necessities like food, shelter and clothing. In light of all these hardships, brushing one’s teeth for two minutes, twice a day, seems trivial and indeed insignificant and not on one’s priority list” explains Raffi, a senior studying Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior at the University of California at Davis. “Thus, the initiative to bring much needed attention to the lack of oral hygiene and promoting awareness of the importance of dental health among the youth in the homeland. “
In the winter of 2012, Raffi partnered up with the Paros Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in Berkeley, California, in establishing the “The Adaam Project: Healthy Teeth” under the Paros Foundation’s “100 for 100: Projects for Prosperity” mission. The project’s goal was to locally collect toothbrushes and toothpastes and then distribute them to the most underprivileged villages in Armenia. By Spring 2013, over 2,000 units had been gathered from a number of Armenian dentists in the Los Angeles area and that summer, the SERVICE Armenia 2013 team organized by The Paros Foundation, distributed them to children between the ages of 6 and 13 in six villages on the eastern shores of Lake Sevan.
“Encouraged by the success of the initial endeavor, The Adaam Project turned its sights on higher expectations for Summer 2014” stated Raffi, who enlisted the assistance of a fellow UC Davis student and recent graduate, Norayr Avakian from Fresno, to expand the reach of the project to the Armenian community of Central California.
Raffi also sought to engage the students of the Los Angeles area Armenian schools by personally meeting the schools’ administrators and students on March 26, 2014, to start a collection drive in the months of March and April. The Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School, Charlotte and Elise Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School and Rose and Alex Pilibos Elementary School have joined Raffi’s efforts to expand the project even further. “We are so glad we are able to help in a small way our counterparts in Armenia in contributing to their oral hygiene” stated Arman Keosian, a member of the Student Council of Ferrahian High School.
Souzy Ohanian, Rose and Alex Pilibos Elementary School Academic Director, provided insight into her impression of Raffi Dadaian’s Healthy Teeth initiative: “When I first heard about the Adaam Project, the first scene I visualized was the excitement of the Armenian children living in the poor villages suffering from poor dental hygiene. I also thought about how this commendable and thoughtful project could bring bright smiles to the faces of school children in Armenia. The next step for me was to make sure our students, Elementary, Middle, and High School take the initiative seriously and devote themselves to such an amazing project leaded by such an individual like you who is committed to give back to his own motherland and its children.
Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School is not only an academic institution, but also an environment in which students are encouraged to embrace their greater community and homeland as well. The entire school is challenged and motivated by this project! Both, Elementary and High School Student Councils have set a goal of collecting at least 500 toothpastes and toothbrushes.
Projects such as this, helps teach students that they truly can make a difference in someone else’s’ life!”
Any individual or dentist willing to donate dental hygiene products such as toothbrushes, toothpastes, mouthwashes or flosses can contact Raffi at [email protected]