Monday, June 18, 2012

The Unsung Hero: Dr. Hawa Abdi

Dr. Hawa Abdi. Do you recognize the name? No, right? I didn't at first either. But you should. We all should. I am thankful to have learned about Dr. Hawa Abdi's story and see her at ICNA. And now I would like to share her story with you all.

Dr. Hawa had a difficult childhood in Somalia. When she was twelve, she lost her mother. With her father's help and encouragement, Dr. Hawa pursued her dream to become a doctor. At the age of 17, she won a scholarship to study medicine in Ukraine. In 1971, Dr. Hawa returned to Somalia having completed all her studies. During this time, Somalia's civil war had not completely erupted. About 12 years later, Dr. Hawa decided to open her own clinic in the outskirts of her town, focusing on treating rural women. 

Fyi, Somalia on a map.
In the meantime, distress in Somalia increased between the people. In less than ten years after opening her clinic, Somalia was fully submerged in a brutal civil war; a civil war that is still ongoing today. Dr. Hawa kept her clinic open and provided free treatment to all patients to came to her clinic, no matter what tribe they were from. 

Men with large weapons from one tribe showed up to her clinic, ordering her to stop treating all patients from the other tribe or they would kill them all. And here's the amazing part. Instead of surrendering (like any normal human being would probably do. I mean come on, being held at gun point is no fun and life seems quite precious in that kinda situation) and allowing these "soldiers" to take patients from the other tribe to kill, Dr. Hawa stood her ground and simply said no. She stood up to those men with large, scary weapons (I repeat, LARGE WEAPONS) and said to them that she will continue to run her clinic and provide free care to ALL those who needed it, regardless of any threats she received from anyone. 

You must be thinking, crap, this woman is a gonner! But no, her intentions were pure and God was with her. Those hoodlums left. They just left. Without one gun shot. Without killing one person. Those men don't have real courage, and when faced with someone with true bravery, they couldn't do anything. Suddenly, those giant guns and whatnot had absolutely no power.

Dr. Hawa Abdi with her two daughters, Deqa and Amina.
It's been many years now, and the civil war in Somalia is still raging. Dr. Hawa still runs her clinic today, along with the help of her two daughters who are also doctors. 

Although Dr. Hawa has been doing this work for nearly two decades, she is finally receiving some recognition for her noble work. In 2010, GLAMOUR Magazine gave Dr. Hawa the title of "Woman of the Year," which is an understatement. She is now nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which she very well deserves.

Dr. Hawa and her daughters at the Glamour event.

Sometimes, in our race of a life, we forget what we really are about. We forget our motives and ambitions, and lose our true intentions. We know what are goals are and we plan out every detail to go achieve that goal but we forget why we set those goals in the first place.

After hearing Dr. Hawa Abdi's story, I remembered why I initially wanted to become a doctor. We don't do our jobs to make a name for our self and make some money; we become something so we can leave a positive footprint in our society and make it a better place. We need to create peace, not remove it. We need to remember that we can only live a peaceful life if we help each other and those in need of help. Today, everything is just a race; who is better at blank than blank. If we continue to treat life as a competition, the chaos will forever be present.

Thank you, Dr. Hawa, for reminding me of my true intentions. Thank you for giving me the motivation to make sure those intentions are fulfilled, insha'Allah.


For more information on the work of Dr. Hawa Abdi and her daughters, and to contribute in any way, visit their web site at

Dr. Hawa Abdi at ICNA

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