NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 23, 2012

‘I feel fortunate that we were able to come to this country’

(Continued)

“As a child I didn’t really know it, but we were on the edge.”

Merabi excelled in school, and went to Brandeis University in part because it had a good Middle East department. And perhaps because he grew up in an low-income neighborhood, he has always reached out to help in the community.

As a student and grad student, he worked in community centers in the Boston area. Through this work, he realized he wanted to pursue dentistry.

He recently opened Portside Family Dental at 7 Brown Square here.

“Working with youngsters, I found that a trip to the dentist would actually solve a problem,” the 36-year-old Newburport resident said. “If you deal with occupational or medical therapies, the challenges aren’t solved as quickly.”

Merabi enrolled at Tufts University Dental School in 2001 and has been pursing the profession since graduating from the four-year program.

But after dental school, he continued his education. The thoughtful medical professional earned a master’s of public health from Harvard, which gives him a broad range of expertise when it comes to wellness issues.

One of his projects for his public health study program was to create a program to improve dental health in a village in the the African country of Malawi.

But what started as a focus on better teeth has expanded to involve a project of charting water sources so villagers can drink untainted water.

“Once I got involved there, I realized that the problem was farther ‘upstream’ and that improving the water source was essential to dental health,” he said.

Though he was felled by malaria the last time he went, he said, “I plan to keep going there to improve conditions. The families who helped me while I was sick were so kind and concerned - I don’t think I can just stop that project.”

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