February 8, 2020
It is no surprise that Dr. Mulokozi Lugakingira, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS) and MS Oral Sciences ’11, started a not-for-profit to advance education and healthcare in Katare Village, Tanzania. The organization is the culmination of a lifetime of service to others.
Born in Tanzania, East Africa, “Dr. Luga” began helping others early on. As the eldest of five siblings, he played an important role in raising the younger children. As a youngster, he visited his mother at work, observing her helping others as a registered nurse in a pediatric surgical ward in the Muhimbili University Hospital in the capital, Dar es Salaam. That, he said, is when he knew he wanted to work in healthcare.
He earned his first dental degree, a DDS, from the Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences in 1999 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He then decided that he wanted to become an oral surgeon. To match in any of the OMFS programs in the United States, it is a requirement to obtain a dental degree from an American accredited dental school. So, Dr. Lugakingira earned a DMD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2004.
His quest was interrupted for two years due to the death of his father. During this time, he practiced as general dentist in Philadelphia to earn money to support his family back home. In the Kagera region, where Katare is located, families are organized into clans, and upon the death of his father, Dr. Luga became the head of the Lugakingira clan as well.
Eventually, he interviewed with 15 OMFS programs, and was pleased when he was accepted by UIC’s, as is was his first choice. Dr. Luga was one of two Chief Residents in the program his last year.
“Under the guidance of the Department Head, Dr. Michael Miloro, and the other attendings and faculty and the collaborative work of the staff at UIC Oral Surgery, I am confident that I can say as a Chief Resident I performed a full scope of surgeries of our specialty,” Dr. Luga said.
Dr. Luga bought a practice in Fort Wayne, IN, in 2013, so he owns and practices at the Fort Wayne Oral Maxillofacial Surgery and Implant Center (www.fortwayneoralsurgery.com). His practice now has three locations. He noted he has brought in “an associate who recently became a partner,” Dr. Franklin Awah, ’10. Performing many implants, Dr. Luga has been nicknamed “The Implant Doctor.”
Dr. Luga also covers facial trauma calls for five local hospitals and has full admitting privileges with all. At the Children’s Craniofacial Center in Fort Wayne, he takes care of cleft lip and palate patients.
Despite his full schedule, the thought of helping his home village was never too far from his mind, however. In 2015, he and his wife, Kos, started a not-for-profit 501 c3 charitable organization, Kagera Advancement Inc. (KAI), registered in Indiana. Currently, KAI has eight board members.
Dr. Luga said that 100% of donations to the charity are used for good works, as he and his wife personally fund their own expenses such as air travel, meals, and accommodations. To avoid bureaucracy, they directly purchase all materials and provide them to the Katare Secondary School and Katare Dispensary Health Clinic.
As of 2018, KAI’s achievements include:
A fully renovated school complete with desks, chairs, and electricity; a new library with books, desks, chairs, and electricity; a computer lab within the library with four computers, a printer, and a scanner; provision of textbooks for each student for all nine subjects taught at the school, for about 20 students; a news physics laboratory; provisions of supplies, including scientific calculators, sharpeners, toothbrushes, and toothpaste; workbooks and crayons for pre-school children from the area; new soccer uniforms and netball uniforms for the school’s teams; and implementation of best student and best teacher monetary awards programs, paid for personally by Dr. Lugakingira and his wife, Kos.
“Within two years, on average the overall student grades have gone up a letter,” he said.
“One US dollar is the equivalent of 2,200 Tanzanian shillings, so a 30,000-shilling textbook costs only $14,” Dr. Luga explained. “This clearly illustrates the potential reach of every dollar in donations we receive. For this, I am grateful for all the hard work by KAI Board of Directors members, and for all our supporting donors from Fort Wayne and elsewhere.”
Dr. Luga hopes to raise enough money for KAI to provide the school with more computers and internet access. He noted that KAI also will need funding for maintenance and upkeep of all that has been done as well.
In 2018, KAI also began helping the Ng’wabuyi Primary School in Tanzania’s
Nyanguage Village by providing books and supplies.
At the clinic in Katare, KAI has paid for electrical wiring and fixtures and building renovations.
KAI also provides help to one school in Fort Wayne every year as well.
Looking ahead, although KAI has been able to rebuild parts of the dispensary the surgical ward is beyond repair, and “the amount of resources needed to repair the dispensary are not worth the measure,” Dr. Luga said.
The new KAI goal now is to build a completely new Health Center—essentially a small hospital with both inpatient wards and outpatient capabilities. In it will also be a minor surgical theatre, mortuary, and staff housing. It will have both medical and dental services.
Once that is finished, the vision is to lead a minimum of one mission trip per year, for at least one week with services provided by doctor volunteers from the United States. Other U.S. healthcare providers will be invited, as will local Tanzanian healthcare providers.
Dr. Lugakingira recalled that his father, the Hon. Justice K.S.K. Lugakingira, said, “Education is the number one weapon you can give anybody.” Dr. Lugakingira said, “I think health is the number two gift you can give anybody.”
Representing KAI, he goes to Tanzania “twice a year, usually in February and August,” he said. “Kos and the kids usually join me in the summer.” The couple has two sons, ages ten and six, and a daughter, age five.
“My goal is to inspire those who are disadvantaged to believe that they can keep pursuing their dreams,” Dr. Lugakingira concluded.
Donations to KAI may be made at www.kageraadvancementinc.org, or by mailing a check to KAI at 12032 Kingsbridge Rd., Fort Wayne, IN 46814. For more information, call (615) 593-7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.