News: Dental students give back, support community members during COVID-19

By Ramtin Hakimjavadi, BMSc Candidate

For third-year dental student Iman Asaria, troubling headlines out of Europe increased concerns for her grandfather, who lives alone in the United Kingdom. “As things began to worsen with the pandemic, my family and I began to worry for his well-being,” she said.

Asaria and her family were relieved to discover that her grandfather’s neighbour generously offered to deliver food and household items to his home. Thankful and inspired, Asaria was determined to contribute to her local community in Calgary the same way. “It was her kindness that has been my motivation,” she explained.

She is one of several dental students from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry who have directed their focus to helping local communities amid the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Every Sunday, Asaria and her brother go to the grocery store to pick up food and essential supplies, delivering them to seniors in her local community. As an extra layer of precaution, they follow the advice of many health care authorities, disinfecting surfaces of containers and washing items that may have come in frequent contact with others.

Asaria started by helping her uncle, but news of her community service spread quickly by word of mouth. “We were able to contact other seniors in the community that are unable to drive, living alone, or limited in access to grocery stores,” she said. “Despite so many new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope that through collaboration and assistance, we can help one another as best we can.”

Kriti Kasni, a student in the Internationally Trained Dentists program, has dedicated her time to helping health care professionals who are on the frontlines of COVID-19.

She is currently assisting with childcare, supporting a Woodstock family with three children and a dog. The work gives her a sense of stability and purpose among the uncertainty of the pandemic. “I think my core motivation was to simply feel useful while navigating my way around what was happening,” she said. “I’m just glad we are able to help the family, who is sacrificing so much to keep us all safe.”

The response to COVID-19 in Ontario has brought forth a wave of unprecedented changes. And although the future is uncertain, these students are serving others and making a positive impact on their communities today.