Dr. Hawa Abdi

by Rohan from San Diego

Dr. Hawa Abdi tends to her patients. ( ())
Dr. Hawa Abdi tends to her patients. ( ())

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" (Gandhi, Mahatma). This quote from Mahatma Gandhi characterizes Dr. Hawa Abdi's actions accurately. Working today as a doctor and human rights activist in Somalia, she takes care of the ill and the poor, included in the group of 90,000 or more refugees she tends to ("Hawa Abdi"). As a child, her mother died and her father was busy, which forced her to take care of her siblings ("Hawa Abdi"). Because she learned the skills of responsibility and care early in her life, after she went to college, she decided to go back to her home country to help her people (Hawa Abdi Foundation). Even as a woman and a minority, she still found a way to follow her dream to help her country. By being determined, selfless, and independent, Dr. Hawa Abdi is making the change she wants to see in the world, by starting with making Somalia a better and safer place.

Abdi's goal to make Somalia a safe place, which puts her in many dangerous and emotional situations, show how determined she is. When times started to get bad in Somalia, "For Abdi, the tragedy of the current famine comes as no surprise. First, she watched the cattle die; now, the children. Before things get better, they will get worse, she says. So she'll continue to make room for Somalis fleeing starvation born of climate change and war" (Griswold). This quote shows how determined Dr. Hawa Abdi is. She realized the struggles she would have to face to accomplish her goal and to help her people, but didn't stop. No matter the consequences or the problems at hand, she continued and still continues to push through them in order to help Somalia, and maybe even the world. Later in her life, "In fact, Dr. Abdi recently had a benign tumor removed from her brain. She is better, she said, but she is tired. Still the work continues, and Dr. Abdi plans to return in a few months" (Ibrahim and Gettleman). Even after getting a brain tumor removed, she still continued to work no matter what. This shows how determined she is to still work in bad conditions to help a country that is dying and is in great turmoil. It also shows how loyal she is to her people and to Somalia. Even though Dr. Hawa Abdi's choice to continue taking care of Somali people is risky, her determination will help her in her goal to save Somalia.

Dr. Hawa with her staff after performing surgery. ( ())
Dr. Hawa with her staff after performing surgery. ( ())

Dr. Hawa Abdi's dedication to care for the people of Somalia and how she put and still puts all of her soul and strength into helping the country, shows how unselfish she is. "And I wish we could have this thing in my country ... I went back because they needed me. Because I have to be there"("In Somalia 'Keeping Hope Alive'"). When she says this, it shows the reader or listener how much she cares about her country. She could have been a famous and successful doctor, working at a top-notch facility, but she chose the people of Somalia over her own well being or success which shows how selfless Hawa Abdi is. She knew her people needed help, and she didn't hesitate to come to their aid. Another example of Hawa Abdi's acts of selflessness is when a militant group was trying to take over her facility, she stated,"'I told the gunmen, 'I'm not leaving my hospital,' Dr. Abdi said. 'I told them, 'If I die, I will die with my people and my dignity.' I yelled at them, 'You are young and you are a man, but what have you done for your society?'"(Ibrahim and Gettleman). Dr. Hawa Abdi was willing to risk her life to save her people, the facility she devoted her life to, and even the rowdy, aggressive militants. By being courageous enough to stand up and talk some sense into the young militants, it shows how selfless she was. Not only was she trying to protect her people and her community, but she was also trying to help the enemy, even at the cost of risking her own life. Dr. Hawa Abdi, no matter the consequences, protects her community, her facility, and herself, for the good of Somalia.

 Abdi stands with her two daughters ( ())
Abdi stands with her two daughters ( ())

Dr. Hawa Abdi leads the foundation and the village that houses many people as a woman and a minority. By taking care of many people with little staff and how she stands up to many people, it demonstrates how independent and strong willed she is. During the time when a militant group tried to force Dr. Hawa Abdi to hand her facility over to them, "Forcing the militants to back down demonstrated Abdi's gritty strong will, as well as the influence she has over a country that needs her now more than ever" (Griswold). By staying strong and standing up to the terrorists, she shows the world how independent she is. She didn't let them push her around because she knows how important the facility is to the people and country of Somalia, and how she is needed more than ever in her society. Her grittiness shows how strong willed she is and how much loyalty and care she has for her country. After Dr. Hawa Abdi was placed under house arrest by a terrorist group that demanded she hand her facility over to them, "Hundreds of women from the sprawling refugee camp on Dr. Abdi's property dared to protest, adding to a flood of condemnation from Somalis abroad that forced the militants to back down. Dr. Abdi even insisted that the gunmen apologize -- in writing -- which they grudgingly agreed to do"(Ibrahim and Gettleman). As a woman and minority in the country of Somalia, many people do not take her seriously. After she was placed under house arrest by the young militants, she inspired the woman of her village and facility to stand up to the terrorist just like she did. By being independent, she showed these women the importance of being strong willed and authoritative in all situations. She portrayed to these women, and even the world, that even if you are poor, a minority, or disabled, be proud of what you are and stand up for what you believe in. Dr. Hawa Abdi's grittiness and independence is one of the main reasons why her facility is still operating today. If it wasn't for her strong willingness, her village would have been a safe house for militants or terrorists.

Dr. Hawa Abdi visits a woman she took care of. (
Dr. Hawa Abdi visits a woman she took care of. (

Dr. Hawa Abdi, the person that helped to raise her four sisters after her mother died, and later sheltered over 90,000 refugees ("Hawa Abdi"), through her acts of determination, selflessness, and independence, she protects her village and country from trouble, no matter the consequences, which shows how much of a hero she is. As Hawa Abdi said: "Happiness is not only protecting your life. It comes when someone needs help and you can save their life". Through her words, Dr. Hawa Abdi inspires people in Somalia and around the world by explaining that you can only feel true happiness if you help someone other than yourself in troubling times. Dr. Hawa Abdi put others before herself and was determined to help them, no matter the obstacles that were thrown in front of her. She made and still makes the changes she thinks are necessary to make Somalia, but more importantly the world a better and safer place. 

Works Cited 
"Dr. Hawa." Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.,Eliza.

"Hawa Abdi." The Atlantic, Nov. 2011. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 2 May 2017.

"Hawa Abdi."Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2014. Biography in Context, Accessed 1 May 2017.

Ibrahim, Mohammed, and Gettleman, Jeffrey. "Under siege in war-torn Somalia, a doctor holds her ground." New York Times, 8 Jan. 2011, p. A1(L). Student Resources in Context, Accessed 2 May 2017.

"In Somalia, Mother And Daughter Are 'Keeping Hope Alive'." All Things Considered, 5 Apr. 2013. Student Resources in Context, Accessed 1 May 2017.

Page created on 5/28/2017 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/28/2017 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation - Dr. Hawa Abdi created this foundation
Discov/Her - Hawa Abdi can be found on this website. There is info. about her.
Building Peace Foundation - A supporting foundation of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation.