“I came to Finland as a refugee at the end of 1990, I was 20 years old. I started studying nursing and worked for a long time as a nurse at the dialysis unit at the Helsinki University Hospital, eventually I became the unit's head nurse. At the same time I studied at Tampere University for a Master’s degree in Health Sciences. In 2006 I started as a teacher at a vocational college.
In 2006 me and a group of other Somali diaspora health professionals approached the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland to see if we could use our experience in aid of Somalia. IOM, the UN Migration Agency, joined in on the pilot project and in 2008 the first professionals were sent to Somaliland and Puntland through the MIDA FINNSOM Health project.
The project is still ongoing and has had very good results. I am now working on establishing the second dialysis unit in Somaliland, in Boroma General Hospital. The first has been in function since April 2012 in Hargeisa Group Hospital. It would actually not be there without me.
In 2011 I discovered two unused dialysis machines that had been donated to the Hargeisa Group Hospital four years earlier, but no-one knew how to operate them. Many people were dying at moment because there were no dialysis units in Somaliland, nor in the whole of Somalia for that sake. Those with money travelled abroad, but the costs were very high. I trained the nurses and doctors to use the equipment and we were able to get more machines through donations. Now we can treat 20 patients in two shifts every day in Hargeisa.
When I first went back to Somaliland I was surprised at the culture shock I experienced. I thought that since I was born and raised there, I would still feel at home there. But I never realized how much Finnish culture had influenced me, especially when it comes to working life.
In Somaliland people don’t come on time to their appointments, neither the staff nor the patients, which makes it hard to run a dialysis unit. Promises are not always kept either, so nowadays I watch the maintenance staff like a hawk until the promised repairs are done.
Still it feels more meaningful to work there. Of course there are people in Finland who are very ill and need care, but I know that in Finland someone else will take my place and do the work. In Somaliland and Somalia they need me more.”