Sunday, June 24, 2012

Standing Up to Somali Warlords

Hawa Abdi, M.D.
Hawa Abdi, M.D
Somali doctor and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Hawa Abdi, M.D., will visit Saint Louis University to share her fight to provide a home, school and hospital for 90,000 impoverished refugees on her family's property. The event, which is open to the general public, will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 at St. Francis Xavier College Church.
Abdi will talk about how she initially built her community, which started as a one-room health care clinic, nearly two decades ago. Thousands of starving and sick refugees - primarily women and children - flocked to her farmland. Abdi welcomed them and, with her two daughters who are also doctors, tended to the medical needs of community.
They also expanded the scope of services they offered to include educating, feeding and providing water to community members. Abdi and her foundation established a school, implemented sustainable farming practices and mounted an engineering program to solve problems with water and energy. The community became one of the largest camps for internationally displaced people in Somalia.
Two years ago, armed military militia ransacked Abdi's hospital and held her at gunpoint. Abdi demanded that they apologize, and they backed down and left the camp.
Abdi was named Glamour magazine's 2010 Woman of the Year, and described as equal parts of Mother Teresa and Rambo.
While Abdi's fight for social justice continues, her vision of a model community is in peril. Earlier this year, fighters from a Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda, illegally seized her land, and broke up her small model city, scattering thousands across war-torn and impoverished Somalia.
Because of the conflict and continued violence in Somalia, Abdi could not attend the Women in the World Foundation summit in March to accept the Women of Impact Award.
The American Friends Service Committee has nominated Abdi for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for her decades of humanitarian service and efforts to build peace in Somalia.
Abdi's talk will be sponsored by the Center for World Health and Medicine and Great Issues Committee at Saint Louis University.
Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit university ranked among the top research institutions in the nation. The University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 13,000 students. Founded in 1818, it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi and the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States. Through teaching, research, health care and community service, Saint Louis University has provided one-of-a-kind education, leadership and service for nearly two centuries.


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