Intisar Ali, a registered nurse from San Jose, is headed to Somalia this week. Although she loves her job caring for refugees who have come to United States, her heart is in her homeland. Intisar came to our Solar Suitcase trainings armed with photos of clinics and a movie depicting Buuhoodle and surrounding areas in Northern Somalia.
Intisar is a determined woman. Ten years ago, she set out to end female genital mutilation (FGM), formerly referred to as “female circumcision.” She educated the local religious leaders about the short and long-term risks of FGM, including bleeding, infection, fistulas and death. She made a video, distributed brochures and papers to community members, and advocated for an end to this brutal tradition. She trained the female circumcisers to become birth attendants, ensuring that relatives and families would support their new work. And she was successful.
Intisar has a new dream – to improve maternal health care and save mothers’ lives. She plans to enhance the skills of birth attendants and improve the conditions in two clinics she and her network support. One performs 10 – 12 deliveries a day without funds to fuel the generator. The other is in disrepair and lost a roof recently. Both clinics go without overhead light. Many women deliver at home. The last maternal death occurred when a woman hemorrhaged and died on her way to a hospital.
When Intisar came to pick up two Solar Suitcases, she exclaimed, “This is a dream come true. There is no [electric] light at all in the clinics. If a midwife attends to a delivery, she needs to get money for kerosene, and that takes a long time. The baby may have come out.” She beamed as she continued, “The [solar] suitcase will make a big difference for the deliveries. [It] will bring the community together. I was dreaming about bringing light to the rural area for 5 – 6 years….Nobody thinks about bringing a light. Once I bring this, things will come…civilization…education…health…Everyone will charge their cell phones….Where there is light, there is life.”
Intisar will be in Africa for six months, and promises to keep us updated about her progress.