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Class of 2016 Funds Oral Health Care for African Students

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Written by Adam Zewe

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) Class of 2016 donated $1,800 to an East African elementary school to fund dental screenings, cleanings and basic restorative care for 85 students. The donation helps provide essential dental treatments for students at the Faraja Primary School for Physically Handicapped Children in Tanzania.

Chris Tolmie, DDS '16, whose grandparents founded the Faraja School in 2001, is hopeful that the dental treatments will also help the Tanzanian students build self-esteem. The Tolmies established the academic and vocational school after they visited the African country on a mission trip and learned that physically handicapped children face great difficulties finding jobs in Tanzania. "As dental students going into a profession where we have a sought-after skill, it's something that we should be sharing on a local and a global level. We shouldn't take our education for granted. We should use it to give back," Tolmie states.

"As a student body, we are all learning to be compassionate oral health care providers, so we thought it would be a great idea to come together and support this cause," remarks Rob Slauch, DDS '16, treasurer for the Class of 2016.

The students held a t-shirt sale to raise the funds. In addition, the class sent toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss, as well as dental hygiene educational materials, so the African students can learn to take care of their teeth in the long term.

The donation of oral health care supplies is especially important for the elementary school students, since Tanzania lacks fluoridated water and many of the nation's residents struggle to access oral health care. The Class of 2016 is planning to hold another fundraiser this spring to raise money for follow-up dental care for the Faraja students.

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