“I don’t want to pull adult teeth from little children—ever again,” thought Sam, a Wellington dentist returning to the Himalayas.
UPDATE: This #HappinessIdea campaign has been fully crowdsourced *and* sponsored by Flight Centre New Zealand! In May, 2018, 18 people from six countries donated 1,070 biodegradable toothbrushes to children and families in remote regions of the Himalayas. This surpassed Sam’s original goal of 1000 toothbrushes! Flights and accommodation were generously donated by Flight Centre. Thanks to everyone who supported this happiness campaign. Thanks for being a part of #HappinessInAction!
Leh Ladakh, India—In 2013, Sam Thompson was volunteering at a dental clinic in Leh Ladakh, a former Himalayan kingdom. The clinic couldn’t have been much more remote. Leh Ladakh sits at 11,500 feet of altitude. It’s nestled between Pakistan to the west and Tibet to the east. At the tippy top of the Indian subcontinent, it’s located in the contentious state of Kashmir. India and Pakistan have disagreed on who should run the region since partition in 1947. The two countries have fought three wars over the region. At times, even neighboring China has weighed in on the debate.
All told, Leh Ladakh might seem an odd place for a young dentist-in-training to volunteer his services. Sam was still a couple months away from receiving his degree in dentistry. But he’d received an email asking if he might be interested in volunteering. One thing led to another and Sam was on his way to northernmost India.
In 2016, we met Sam at the dental clinic in Wellington, New Zealand where he now practices. As it happens, Sam is Patricia’s dentist. At their first meeting, Patricia asked Sam about the pictures of prayer flags he’d hung on the walls of his office. That’s when Sam told her his story of traveling to the Himalayas back in 2013 to treat kids at altitude in the mountains. Sam talked about how happy it made him to offer dental care to kids who otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to see a dentist.
“So what’s next?” Patricia asked Sam. “What’s happiness now?”
“Happiness would be to go back to the Himalayas,” Sam said. “I want to go back. I want to treat those kids again. This time with a better level of care than I could offer when I first visited the region.”
Sam went on to explain that he’s passionate about prevention. He really didn’t want to have to extract adult teeth from kids’ mouths, but that was something he’d had to do a lot of up in the Himalayas. What if—along with dental care—Sam could also offer dental prevention and education? What if Sam returned to the Himalayas with a giant sack of toothbrushes for kids and families in remote regions? And what if those toothbrushes were biodegradable so that Sam wasn’t leaving a bunch of plastic in the Himalayas?
Sam Thompson’s #HappinessIdea is to bring a giant sack of biodegradable toothbrushes to children in the remote Himalayas. He’ll pass out brushes and teach kids the how-to of getting preventive dental care right. Can you help us crowdsource 1,000 biodegradable toothbrushes for kids in the Himalayas?
To meet Sam and hear more about his ‘happy,’ watch our call-to-action video introducing Sam and his #HappinessIdea.
Watch our video application to collaborate with Swiss bag maker Freitag in their effort to support global happy! In 2019, Freitag will name one lucky organization as their Executive Vice “Pleasident”. We’d like that lucky someone to be us!
We’ve crowdsourced these items
sack of 1,000 toothbrushes
Biodegradable toothbrushes from GoBamboo
Thank you followers!
flights to Himalayas
Fly to Leh Ladakh in June 2018 to deliver toothbrushes
Thank you Flight Centre NZ!
accommodation and per diem
Stay in the Himalayas, drive to Leh Ladakh, per diem for food and daily expenses
Thank you Flight Centre!
Filmmaker to join expedition to film delivery of toothbrushes
Thank you Flight Centre NZ!