Tuesday October 9 2012 the WOD is Edna Adan, an inspiring advocate for
women and girls. Her maternity hospital in Somaliland is an oasis of
healing and care for the country's women.
Adan was raised in
Somaliland in an educated and wealthy family, when the country was a
protectorate of the British Empire. When she was 15, a girls' school
opened in Somaliland. Adan went to work there as a student teacher and
also received private lessons. She was permitted to sit for exams, in a
room separate from the boys, and was the first Somali girl awarded one
of a few coveted scholarships to study in Britain. She spent seven years
there, studying nursing, midwifery and hospital management.
she returned home to Somaliland, Adan became the first qualified
nurse-midwife in the country and the first Somali woman to drive a car.
She later became the first lady when she married Somaliland's prime
minister, Ibrahim Egal. After they divorced, Adan was recruited to join
the World Health Organization (WHO), where she held various key
positions advocating for the abolition of harmful traditional practices,
such as female genital cutting.
But Adan never let go of a
life-long dream to build a hospital, so upon retiring from the WHO she
sold all of her possessions, including her beloved Mercedes, and
returned to Somaliland to make her dream a reality. There was only one
available plot of land within the capital of Hargeisa, land which since
the civil war had been used as a trash dump. But it was in the poor area
of town, near those who needed the hospital the most. So she negotiated
with the president, her ex-husband, and obtained the land for her
When the structure was completed but the roof not yet
installed, the project ran out of money. But with assistance from the
Friends of Edna's Hospital and in-kind donations from local merchants,
Adan finished construction and the hospitalopened in 2002. Since then,
Adan has focused her efforts on a new goal: training and dispatching
1,000 qualified midwives throughout Somaliland. Adan continues to work
as the hospital's director and strives to improve the lives and health
of women throughout her country.