Salad Idow Hassan (Xiis)
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Meet Dr. Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe, a 60-year-old family doctor who has treated, often for no charge, thousands of poor women and children in Somalia for over quarter of a century. She runs the Dr. Hawa Abdi clinic, located between Mogadishu and Afgoye.
Trained in Ukraine, the former Soviet Union nation, Dr. Dhiblawe returned to Somalia in 1983 to open her own clinic in the outskirts of Mogadishu—a place that has not known any medical facility. She focused the treatment of women from non-urban areas.
Hiiraan Online recognizes Dr. Dhiblawe as the person of the year 2007 for her selfless campaign to treat disenfranchised women, and the welfare she provided for over 7,000 families who live in her compound, who were displaced from the restive capital Mogadishu.
For a quarter of century, Dr. Dhiblawe was the sole medical provider in the treacherous land between Mogadishu and Afgoye. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times earlier last year, Dr. Dhiblawe said she was shocked to learn the rise of the number of women who suffered from birth complications and defects as a result of the conflict in Somalia.
|Dr. Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe, founder of Hawa Abdi Hospital|
She treated over 1,111 women with such complications.
Remarkably, Dr. Abdi did this largely without any significant external financial support. An OB/GYN specialist, she recently received the support of MSF, which promised to provide food and clean water for the displaced family.
“Everyone in the Dr. Hawa Abdi hospital is a Somali—no clan affiliation is allowed here. If someone brings such affiliation, he or she will be expelled from here,” she recently told Hiiraan Online.
Joining Dr. Dhiblawe’s family clinic are her two young daughters, Dr. Amina Mohamed Abdi, and most recently, Dr. Deqa Mohamed Abdi. All three now work in the clinic.
Dr. Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe and her two daughters, Dr. Amin and Dr. Deeqa
Asked how she would explain her two daughters’ decision to become OB/GYN doctors, just like her, Dr. Dhiblawe said: “My daughters want to follow my roots, because they love their nation and their people. They are dedicated to help their people. Sometimes, when I told them to stay away from the medical profession, they declined, and decided to work for their people.”
‘Kill me first!’
Dr. Dhiblawe has seen all the troubles of Somalia, but she distinctly remembers one fateful day after the 1991 civil war that brought down the military regime. Her hospital was overflowing with injured men from one of the sides who were engaged in the war. Militiamen from the other side marched on her hospital and demanded to get access to the injured men of the opposite group, so that they can kill them.
Engrossed with deep respect for humanity, Dr. Dhiblawe told the attacking militiamen to “kill me first, before you can kill my patients.” It was a defining moment in her career. That stubbornness saved her patients.
Dr. Dhiblawe’s mother died when she was 12. As the eldest of her siblings, she had to help with family chores, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her medical studies dream. The daughter of an educated father, she became a doctor at a very young age.
Though she is hesitant to use that word, Dr. Dhiblawe said she’s increasingly becoming pessimistic about the situation in Somalia, and often thinks about “giving up and leaving the whole country,” something she’s fully capable of.
But, she added: “Then, I think about who is going to take care of my patients. If I could get a Green Card for all of my patients and all the displaced people here, I would ship them to the United States.”
Dr. Dhiblawe pleads with Somalis to respect and protect the people who work in the humanitarian field, especially in Puntland, where the kidnapping of foreign aid workers has been rampant in recent months.
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Hawa Abdi Dhiblawe for winning the “person of the year 2007” of Hiiraan Online for her relentless humanitarian work.
If you need to take part on Dr. Hawa Abdi's humanitarian work, please contact her at
Salad Idow Hassan (Xiis)