Anisa Ibrahim: Somali refugee rewriting history in America

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online
Dr. Anisa Ibrahim, picture on her graduation day, is now directing the same Seattle clinic that took care of her when she was a child and newly arrived refugee.

WASHINGTON, USA - It's not a wish for anybody to flee his or her motherland but at times, circumstances can force someone to, ostensibly for safety and improved social-economic status.

For Dr. Anisa Ibrahim, 32, being a refugee made her reevaluate herself rather than losing self-esteem, a common ripple effect among dozens of people who run away from their countries.

After a brief stay in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, Ibrahim and her family were granted asylum in the US like many Somalis who were running away from the Horn of Africa during the civil war in 1992.

"There were so many people in small quarters, all of us were fleeing the downstream effects of violence and political unrest," Ibrahim told CNN.

"Our family was luckier, but there was a lot of poverty, malnutrition, and infectious diseases and outbreaks."

In the Washington state of the US, Ibrahim developed an interest in medicine, a course she went on to excel years later from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Recently, she was appointed Director of Harborview Medical Center, effectively becoming the first refugee to lead such an accomplished clinic in the United States of America.

It's the same center that Ibrahim, more than two decades later, now runs, at a time when the nation's refugee resettlement efforts have eroded under White House pressure.

President Donald Trump is pushing to have immigration rules reviewed, proposing tough regulations which critics argue that 'they will erode America's virtues'.

Still, she looks upon refugee children who come to the facility with the same hope she once felt as a young patient.

"I'm not this exceptional human being," Ibrahim said. "There are millions of refugees right now who are not being given the opportunities that I have been given. And if they were, they would do incredible things."

Over the decades, despite the political crisis in Somalia coupled with the emergence of Al-Shabaab militants, Somali refugees have continued to excel in different parts of the globe.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, now representing Minnesota 5th District, underwent predicaments such as those of Dr. Ibrahim. She was elected in 2016. In the house, she's the fiercest critic of Trump administration.

Last week Ahmed Hussen, another Somali refugee, was re-elected in Canada at the Liberal party. He serves as a minister in Justin Trudeau's government.

In Britain, Magid Magid, another Somali refugee, was recently picked to join the European Parliament in Brussels. He served as a Mayor at some point.

"It's incredibly damaging to characterize any other human being in a way that dehumanizes them and that's what's happening recently, and it's not what we stand for as a country," Ibrahim said.

Most Somali refugees hold the country at heart, with many involved in the rebuilding process. Ms. Omar recently asked Kenya to stop destroying infrastructure in the name of fighting Al-Shabaab.

Over 20,000 UN peacekeepers are in Somalia. The country is expected to go to polls in 2020/21. UN is fighting hard to restore normalcy after three decades of civil war and misrule.

Reporting by Abuga Makori in Nairobi; Editing by Omar Nor


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