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Ruqia Osman

For Somalia, with love: Ruqia Osman talks fundraising for her Somalian roots

  • NQ speaks to Somalian refugee Ruqia Osman who moved to the UK 10 years ago
  • Set up own campaign to raise awareness of Hargeisa maternity hospital raising over £1,000
  • £199 raised for Somalia during Mount Snowdon trek

After more than 20 years of internal conflict and no central government, extreme poverty is a reality in Somalia.

Figures show the infant mortality rate is currently at 132/1,000 of live births, with a maternal mortality rate of 1,600/100,000 of live births, and indicators of health are considered to be one of the world’s worst.

More than 350,000 Somalis are refugees, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

NQ has been hearing how Somali refugee Ruqia Osman, who is living in the UK is helping.

Ruqia said: “I set up my own campaign to raise awareness of a maternity hospital in Hargeisa, Somalia, founded by the former first lady of Somalia, Edna Adan Ismail. It is the only maternity hospital in the entire region and people come from all over East Africa to have access to it. With many women dying every year during childbirth and hundreds of babies dying due to preventable causes, it’s something that is not readily accessible in Somalia. Here, we take it for granted.

“To raise awareness of the hospital, I set up events such as a bake sale, and a film night where we showed a documentary about what is happening in Somalia. I got so much support and we raised over £1,000, it was crazy".

I ended up getting a phone call from Somalia’s previous first lady herself, Edna Adan Ismail, who called to say she noticed what I had done for them and that she really appreciated it. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say

Ruqia Osman

Ruqia was born in Somalia but when her family decided it was not safe due to the war, she moved to the Netherlands. In 2008, after 10 years in the Netherlands, Ruqia moved to the UK for her education and has been here ever since.

“I have such a big family and they live all over the world. After everyone moved from Somalia, it wasn’t feasible to all go to the same place. So, my mum lives in Australia, I have family in Canada, Italy, everywhere,” she said.

Studying biochemistry at the University of Bath, she is currently on placement at the University of Manchester, and though not knowing what career path she wants to take, Ruqia knows she would like to go back to Somalia to help and volunteer there.

I still have connections there, I wouldn’t feel comfortable living here and not doing anything to help people back home. I am really passionate about helping people and giving back, so that is something that I would like to do

Speaking about the urgency of drawing the world’s attention to Somalia, Ruqia felt more people needed to speak out in order for something to change, Ruqia said: “I felt people had forgot about Somalia as the war has been going on for over 20 years, I feel like people feel it’s old news, so they don’t talk about it anymore, and I wanted to get people to talk about it, and say ‘hey it’s still not okay what is going on there, people still need your help’.”

She has more and more plans to raise money to help even when she knows it does not always go to plan.

“Most recently to fundraise I went to climb Mount Snowdon, but it was a bit of a disaster: there was a storm when we went, so after trekking for about 45 minutes we were directed to turn back because it wasn’t safe anymore. It was really upsetting, but we’re thinking of going back in spring. Myself I raised £199, but as a group we raised over £7,000.”

Ruqia Osman

For the future, Ruqia is hoping to top her own campaign of raising awareness of the maternity hospital.

“For my next fundraiser, I would like to help another region in Somalia. My dad is from Afgoye in Southern Somalia, so I would like to do something there next. I want to make a difference, it’d be more exciting than working in a lab.”

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