CA: Muslim Dentist Fills Cavities for Uninsured


Lining the walls of the narrow blue waiting room are framed diplomas and certificates recognizing the merits of family dentist Mostafa "Mo" Barakzoy.

The documents paint a portrait of a man who attended college in the East Bay, moved south to start his medical career, then returned to the Bay Area.

What's missing are indicators of Barakzoy's earlier life in Afghanistan, the political asylum that brought him and his family to the United States, and his commitment to social welfare.

In Afghanistan, Barakzoy graduated at the top of his high school class and was among about 200 students out of

17,000 applicants who were accepted into Kabul University's medical school.

But he had studied there only five months before fleeing his homeland with his mother and brothers. His father — chief of staff for the national force under the King Zaher Shah — had been assassinated by the secret service of the communist regime.

"I have some cheerful memories of family gatherings — going on picnics close to rivers. There are a lot of beautiful places in Afghanistan. ... Then we left everything. My mom not only lost her husband; she lost her home. We just took the clothes on our back and moved on," Barakzoy said.

The family escaped to India, and eventually was granted political asylum by the U.S. government.

Barakzoy arrived in the United States in January 1983 speaking very little English. The 17-year-old took language courses at the Hayward Adult School, then enrolled as a biology student at what was then California State University, Hayward.

He went on to dental school at the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed his residency at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. He served in the military for 14 years before he was honorably discharged as a lieutenant commander.

Although Barakzoy has traded his military life for civilian life, the first-generation immigrant remains committed to public service.

A veteran dentist with his own private practice, Barakzoy also works three days a week for the Tri-City Health Center, a nonprofit organization in Fremont that serves uninsured and low-income individuals. He's hoping to expand that work to five days. (MORE)

 


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