I attended the London fundraising event.
On a rainy autumn Saturday afternoon, about a 100 men and women brazed the wind, rain and traffic jams to attend an event organized for a proposed health institute in Galkacyo. As the host opened the event we listened attentively, our zeal not dampened by the usual two hour delay of Somali events. The room fell silent as a gentleman was called to give a brief background of the doctor in charge of Galkacyo Medical Foundation (GMF).
Dr jama was introduced to the audience looking around all this seemed a mere formality as the gathered folk all seemed to be aware of his work and sang his praises even before the introduction. I soon discovered why the man needed no such introductions.
The moment had finally arrived. A slender man in his sixties stood before us and peered through his glasses. After the niceties and cordial greetings, Dr jama dived into his work. Having been a young medical student in Italy, he returned to Somalia in 1995 to help his people after the collapse of the central government. He and his aid partners set up a health charity called COMSED based in the capital of mudug. Initially he shuttled back and forth between Italy and Galkacyo carrying with him essential drugs and equipment. The country has been experiencing a breakdown of infrastructure as it disintegrated into regions all plagued by hunger, disease and a lack of basic necessities. This lack of healthcare impacted heavily on women and children. Dr Jama's specialty of gynecology and obstetrics cannot be over emphasized in a country that has the highest mortality rate in world.
We watched a video of the activities of the Galkacyo Medical Centre (GMC). Built on the outskirts of Galkacyo it contains operating theatres, delivery rooms and a 78 bed inpatient ward. We saw pictures of operations, crowded wards full of surgery patients. As we sat watching some of the grim pictures of operations carried out at GMC, Dr Jama guessed from the look of horror on our faces and assured us " We have removed some of the more ugly scenes for your comfort". It was hard to believe that the women with tumors on their faces, the man with intestinal cancer who seemed pregnant, the little ones with cleaved lips too shy to smile were the minor cases - the lucky ones !.
Galkacyo like many cities in Somalia is home to many Internally Displaced People (IDPs).The never ending cycle of hunger, poverty and disease caused by the uncivil wars ,environmental degradation and droughts have taken their toll on the population. Sprawling camps made of plastic sheets punctuated by heaps of rubbish and rubble is home to thousands of Galkacyo IDPs.We watched little girls standing watch over their even younger sibling. Dr jama explained to the audience that the parents are away selling their wares at the local market or collecting firewood, the kids are left to fend for themselves. These children are exposed to risks of fire, eating dangerous substances or even being kidnapped by strangers. GMC runs a mobile clinic in the IDP camp , supplying medicines free of charge.
The aim of Galkacyo Medical Foundation is to establish a training institute for Midwives, nurses, and Lab Technicians. Dr Jama is touring the Diaspora to complete the construction of the training institute. Worthy causes indeed, contribute generously.