After earning dental degree, new dentist wants to return to Zambia to open clinic

The Dallas Morning News profiled the extraordinary story of a new dentist, Dr. Given Kachepa, who just graduated from Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry, and his hopes to return to open the first dental clinic in the city where he was born — Kalingalinga, Zambia.

According to the article, Dr. Kachepa was brought to Texas by traffickers at age 11. In 1997, he joined a boy’s choir that would tour the U.S. through a ministry called Teaching Teachers to Teach: Partners in Education, which promised to send stipends to the boys’ families and raise money for Zambian schools. The ministry, however, poorly treated the choir members — if they didn’t sing, they weren’t fed — and never paid the boys, Dr. Kachepa told Dallas Morning News.

A former volunteer, Sandy Shepherd, ultimately reported the ministry to authorities and the Zambian Embassy in the U.S. Ms. Shepherd became Dr. Kachepa’s foster mother. They recall, in the story, that enrolling in the eight grade was difficult for Dr. Kalingalinga.

“When you’re missing the foundation, I think it’s very hard to recover,” he said. “I was limited in my language. Nobody ever sat down with me in Zambia and taught me to read. Sometimes, it took me many, many hours to finish the homework.”

Dr. Kachepa became interested in dentistry after getting braces. In 2013, while visiting Kalingalinga, his cousin went to a clinic over a toothache and needed an extraction. According to the article, the dentist had two men hold his cousin down because there was no anesthetic.

While it’ll take Dr. Kachepa few years to pay back his student loans, he said he’s already preparing for his clinic in Kalingalinga.

To read Dr. Kachepa’s story, click here.

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