The civil war in Somalia in the 1990s dealt a hard hand on many natives. Those who were able to flee, left the country looking for better lives. Those who stayed back were forced to survive on almost nothing. No food, no water. Children were malnourished and many others died as a result.
As in many civil wars, women and children suffered more in the Somali war and there was a dire need to provide them with care and attention in order to save their lives. This is what Dr. Hawa Abdi did. Abdi, one of Somalia’s female obstetrician and lawyers, had set up a clinic in 1983 at her family’s home in Shebelle.
The clinic known as the Rural Health Development Organisation (RHDO) started off as a one-room clinic where women across the region would visit for obstetrics services. When the war broke out in 1991, she stayed behind at the behest of her grandmother, who encouraged her to use her skills to help the people. She opened up the family compound for people fleeing the war.
“During those dark days of 1992, starvation set in and I sold my family’s gold to buy enough food to sustain the vulnerable children and give the gravediggers enough strength to work. Even when we were burying 50 people per day, I was still able to provide free land, security, and medical treatment.
We clung to one another and we survived, but the fighting continued. Now, again, we see famine—not caused by drought alone, but by the conflict that continues to ravage Somalia,” she said in an interview. Slowly, the plain farm turned into a camp, with thousands of women setting up dome-shaped homes that would house them for years.
As more people streamed in, Abdi established a new clinic and even set up schools for all the children orphaned and displaced by the war. The clinic now has a 400-bed capacity and the school has 850 students. More than 90,000 people are living in the compound. She renamed RHDO to Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, which is now run by her daughters, CEO Dr. Deqo Adan (also known as Deqo Mohamed) and assistant Dr. Amina Mohamed. They work all through to ensure that people who are suffering are able to access healthcare. They, however, have only two rules.
Source: Face2Face Africa