Walden U Commencement Speaker

Edna Adan was the keynote speaker for the 53rd Commencement Ceremony at Walden University. They are a graduating class of more than 6,000 students—representing all 50 U.S. states and 97 countries. She shared with the audience how education has been the center of everything she’s accomplished.

Besides giving me a new purpose in life, the hospital has also become a platform from where I can influence education in my country, where I can encourage girls to go to school and say to those who hesitate….’you think that I could have built this hospital without education? Now just think what you can do with education now that you have seen what an old woman can do after retirement!’

– Dr. Edna Adan, Commencement Speech, January 31, 2015, Orlando, Florida

Former Foreign Minister and Somali First Lady Shares Inspiring Story of Social Change with Walden University Graduates

Edna Adan stresses importance of perseverance to achieve educational goals

Edna Adan, former foreign minister and Somali first lady, addressed more than 1,050 graduates and 4,600 guests, faculty, administration and staff attending Walden University’s 53rd Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, January 31, 2015, at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center near Orlando. Adan shared her powerful personal story and experience of going against all odds to effect positive social change in her country and offered inspiring insight into the importance of education and the responsibility that comes with earning an advanced degree.

“We were honored to have Edna Adan, a passionate advocate who gives a voice to the voiceless, share her inspiring story of social change with Walden graduates,” said Jonathan Kaplan, interim president of Walden University. “Her drive to pursue education as a basic human right and her continuous fight to challenge the status quo ring true for the Walden community, who undoubtedly went home feeling motivated to continue impacting their communities, now and in the future.”

Adan reflected on her journey as the first Somali girl awarded one of a few coveted scholarships to study in Britain, where she spent seven years studying nursing, midwifery and hospital management to become Somaliland’s first qualified nurse-midwife in the country. She then went on to open the Edna Adan University Hospital in 2002 and Edna Adan University in 2012, “the first university in Somaliland that is headed by a woman.” Full Article

Edna Adan at first Girl Summit in London

Edna was invited by Somaliland First Lady Amina Weris to serve on the country’s delegation for the first Girl Summit in London on July 22, 2014.

The event, co-hosted by the UK Government and UNICEF, was aimed at mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation.


First Lady Weris stated that the government of Somaliland, one of the leading 30 countries in the practice of FGM, is fully committed to achieving the end of FGM and forced marriages through concerted effort.

As a mother, midwife, and former student of Edna’s, First Lady Weris is a valuable ally in the fight against FGM.

As of today, over 11,000 people have pledged to join in the Girl Summit movement to end FGM and Forced marriages and nearly 1 Billion people have been reached via Social Media.  Will you join us?

Take the Pledge

Read more about Somaliland’s delegation in the Somaliland Sun newspaper: Government Committed to Ending FGM and Early Forced Marriage in this Generation


Facial Reconstruction Surgery for Ayaan

Facial Reconstruction Surgery for Ayaan

Edna has traveled with Ayaan to Brisbane, Australia, where Ayaan will receive facial reconstruction surgery to restore her face which was injured during the Somali Civil War.

Ayaan has lived all her life with a hole in the side of her face and now, after many years seeking help, she will undergo surgery this week to have the injuries repaired.

This case has touched Edna deeply and she is so relieved that now – with the support of the Brisbane Rotary Club, The Wesley Hospital, and Dr. John Arvier who will perform the surgery – Ayaan’s sad story will get its happy ending.

UPDATES are highlighted in red. Scroll down for photos and news articles. This page has been amended numerous times.

Ayan visits Edna Hospital, June 2, 2014

Looking so much better!

Edna says, “Beautiful Ayan, four months after her operation in Australia. Thank you everyone who supported her cause. She has gone back to school and eventually wishes to study medicine.”

Ayan Arrives back in Hargeisa, Mar 17, 2014

Ayaan arrived safely back in Hargeisa this afternoon. There are photos of her being greeted as she arrived at the hospital, and a couple with Dr. Shukri – find them toward the bottom of the gallery lower down this page.

Update from Dr. John Arvier, March 12, 2014

2014-03-11 IMG_7776

Ayan continues to progress slowly but steadily. The healing of the cartilage and skin grafts is further advanced, and the mottled pigmentation will
continue to resolve, with time. She has had a final clearance from Dr David Chin’s office today, and Dr Michael Rutherford has completed the dental
rehabilitation, and is finalising the denture remodelling with the help of technician Paul Louda, in preparation for anticipated departure this

2014-03-09 IMG_5616 Ayan’s host family Suad and Abdi Ismail took her to the Gold Coast for the week-end, and John Kenny directed them to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for a glimpse of Australian fauna and fauna. Thanks also to other local members of the Somaliland community who continue to provide transport for
the regular follow-up appointments.

Update from Noela Phillips, March 5, 2014

This update about Ayan was provided to us by Noela Phillips, who is among those primarily responsible for having brought Ayan to Australia for facial reconstruction surgery:

Hello all,

Late yesterday, Ayan was given the all-clear for her discharge from hospital. Louise Arvier and myself excitedly walked Ayan out of her room for the celebratory photo with the Wesley Hospital nurses. What an amazing job they did looking after Ayan and overcoming communication barriers if they arose. After exiting the lift and for what may have been the first time in her adult life, Ayan walked out to meet the world with her face uncovered. At age 25, imagine that! There will be follow-up visits for Ayan to her medical specialists as healing continues.

Ayaan photographed leaving hospital

Ayaan photographed leaving hospital

En route to Suad and Abdi’s home where Ayan was to spend her very first night, her eyes lit up as she once again saw city lights, bridges and the river. She said “Brisbane….. beautiful” and the tone of her voice indicated she was genuine in her praise. While in Perth, Edna has been in constant telephone contact with Ayan. I will never forget her devotion to Ayan; from early morning to late at night, she sat by Ayan’s hospital bedside providing her with much love, gentle touches and encouraging words. Parting for them both was quite emotional, however as Edna said, “Ayan is in the best hands possible,” and that is indisputable. Edna is now winging her way to London where she is guest speaker at an International Woman’s Day function. Before departing, she left this message for you all, and I quote:

“Sincere thank you to everyone who contributed to helping Ayan receive her surgery in Brisbane and to all who sent their prayers and good wishes. A special thank you to those who will be looking after her until her treatment is completed, prior to her departure for home. You have all gone the extra mile for Ayan. Blessings and appreciation to you all. ~ Edna”

I hope you enjoy the photo below taken as Ayan left the hospital precinct last night. Once again “a picture paints a thousand words”…..

Update from Dr. John Arvier, Feb. 27, 2014

Day 5, dressing removed.  Improving despite swelling, infection.

Day 5, dressing removed. Improving despite swelling, infection.

Ayan continues to improve very slowly. She had a small setback in the last few days, with some bleeding in the tissues beside her eye, accompanied by a lot of facial swelling. Drs Darren Ault and Nick Kienzle from Wesley Medical Imaging kindly arranged drainage of the blood clot under ultrasound guidance on Wednesday afternoon, and Dr Paul Georghiou (Infectious Diseases consultant) has subsequently advised on expanding her antibiotic cover to try and prevent any bacterial infection. David Brand has kindly offered to donate any pharmaceuticals, and a thank-you also to Paul Louda, of Peter and Paul Dental Laboratory for waiving any charges for the dental models and splint construction.

Dr David Chin has removed the dressing over the skin graft, which looks healthy. Most of the staples and stitches have been removed, and all skin wounds are healing well, despite the cheek swelling. Hopefully, further improvement over coming days.

Brisbane High-Rise Rotary and Mitchelton Rotary clubs also appreciate all those who attended Edna’s presentation about her maternity/women’s health hospital in Somaliland, and the many generous donations to her charity work. On Wednesday Edna was able to attend an O & G operating session and clinic with Dr Bob Watson, and found it very beneficial. Many thanks Bob!

Update from Edna, Feb. 26, 2014

Edna gave an interview this morning to Australian Radio (ABC) discussing all about Ayaan’s story. The first thing we learn is that the proper pronunciation of our new favorite city is: Briz’-ben.

Listen to ABC Radio interview

Edna describes Ayaan as ‘the bionic woman’ now that so many elements of her face now are comprised of prostheses and she describes the long years not only of raising awareness of Ayaan’s plight and fundraising but then of Ayaan’s many trips to Ethiopia where they have the equipment and expertise to do the detailed scans that were the basis of the molds which were made of Ayaan’s face.

Ayaan is described now as ‘beaming’. She walks in the hospital hallway and looks at people now with confidence and is learning a few words of English. She speaks of going back to school and studying to be a doctor. Edna promises to pay for her education providing she works hard to qualify for medical school.

Edna gets very emotional, choked up, discussing Ayaan. And she is so grateful to the wonderful Australian people and to the Australian government for making all this possible.

With this problem now largely out of the way, Edna, age 76, already is looking ahead to the next problem that needs solving. She’s working to get an 8-year old Somaliland child to Austin, Texas, for surgery to repair a hole in her heart.

Last evening, they attended a dinner in their honor given by the two local Rotary Clubs and attended by many of the medical personnel who volunteered their time to contribute to Ayaan’s 11-hour surgery. Edna spoke about her passion for Midwifery and for the education of women. The Rotarians now are raising funds to procure for Edna Hospital a Fetal Heart Monitor which will help doctors more accurately to determine when surgical intervention is required in a pregnancy. Edna says this will save many lives.

In the interview, Edna was pleased at the opportunity to discuss another of her passions. Somaliland. She describes the contrast between Somalia, from which people continue to flee, and Somaliland which is peaceful and stable and to which members of the diaspora are now returning to retire and even bringing along whole families because it is so peaceful and stable. Somaliland is an example of self-reliance and of a country moving forward in a peaceful and democratic manner, one which other African countries would do well to emulate.

* You may Download Audio File or listen from the ABC website.

Update from Edna, Feb. 25, 2014

Today Ayan was cleared for semi-solid food. For lunch, she had minced beef, mashed potatoes and vegetables, followed by ice cream and fruit. Painful at first but managed quite well with encouragements.

Progress all the same.

Update from Edna, Feb. 24, 2014

In addition to those who are helping Ayan here, I wish to send a ‘Thank You’ to all those who helped Ayan during the past eleven years that it took to get here. Among them, I thank Ian Overton who raised funds for her, the Current TV brothers who helped us with the documentary, the father of our volunteer Kathryn McCaleb who paid for her ticket, and not forgetting the Somaliland community around the world who raised the funds that made it possible to cover the costs of the repeated and expensive tests and travels to Ethiopia and for the travel to Djibouti for the first Visa application to the USA.

I do not wish to forget those at the Edna hospital who made arrangements for Ayan to travel back and forth from Burao and to wherever she had to be sent.

Am sure I am forgetting many more people but this is what I could think of while sitting in Ayan’s room as she sleeps.
~ Edna

Update from Dr. Arvier, Feb. 24, 2014

Ayan continues to improve on Day 2 post-operation, and has now been deemed fit to leave ICU by Dr Bhala Venkatesh, and is now back on the normal ward, where red carpet treatment is being provided after she and Edna charmed all the nurses. She is able to stand and walk to the bathroom, and more head bandages were removed today. Her post-operative x-rays look fine, and she is now able to manage a vitamised diet.

Ms Moya Pattie has now been providing speech pathology exercises to improve both hers swallowing as well as her speech patterns, and Ayan and Edna have sent thanks to all those who assisted with the preparation for her surgery, including Drs Ken Hutchison (ophthalmology review), John Sampson (physician review), & Michael Daubney (psychological review), as well as Dr Michael Harrison and the pathologists from Sullivan & Nicolaides, and Drs Richard Lamprecht and Darren Ault and the radiologists from Wesley Medical Imaging. Liberty Craufurd-Wall even kindly came to Ayan’s room and provided a private coiffure.

A special mention also to the many members of the dental team. Andrea Smith kindly made the facilities from Gap Dental Practice available, where Mike Rutherford addressed a spectrum of unusual dental pathology, and also designed the palatal splint supporting the transposed muscle, and which will eventually morph into a removable denture long term. Allan Forrest-Winchester has also been providing dental treatment for Edna, addressing a number of problems in limited time.

In addition, thanks to Stryker who donated all the fixation plates and screws and the implanted orbital prostheses (as well supplying Brittany Schumacker who came along to supervise their placement), and Gibran Maher, Andrew Batty and Robert Thompson, and all the staff from Anatomics who supplied the surgical biomodel, built on the most sophisticated 3D printer on the planet. Shayne Engelbrecht from Johnson and Johnson also kindly donated many of the consumables.

More acknowledgements to come tomorrow.

John Arvier

Update from Dr. Arvier, Feb. 23, 2014

Greetings all supporters of Ayan,

Just to let you know her surgery proceeded as planned yesterday, and all went well. This is to acknowledge Maxillofacial Surgeon, Geoff Findlay, Plastic Surgeon David Chin, Consultant Anaesthetists Steve Tavakol and Dick Etches, surgical trainee John Webster, surgical assistants Keren McKenna and Tracey O’Connor, OT Scrub sisters Chris Lauenstein, Tracey Dick and Chris Banditt, and numerous other theatre scouts and orderlies, etc.

Ayan has been resting comfortable in Wesley ICU overnight, and has been improving rapidly today under the watchful eyes of ICU staff Drs Wayne Kelly & Gregory Ellison, and nurses Mye Barlayan and many others. She is already sitting out of bed in a chair, most of the tubes have been removed, and she is starting to talk and take some soft food. Even a few cautious smiles.

Ayan and Edna send their thanks to all those who contributed to the preparations and surgery over the past week, and the many others in Australia and Somaliland who sent greetings and kept them in their thoughts and prayers.

Thanks again

John Arvier

Wesley Hospital Press Release, Feb. 22

Ayan Mohamed from Somaliland undergoes surgery at The Wesley Hospital

Ayan Mohamed from Somaliland underwent facial reconstruction surgery at The Wesley Hospital, Brisbane, today.

The surgery began at 7.30am and concluded at approximately 6.30pm.

A team of approximately 20, comprising surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and other staff, volunteered their time and services pro bono for today’s surgery.

Wesley Hospital Oral and Maxilliofacial Surgeon Dr John Arvier and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr David Chin said the surgery went exactly as planned.

“The surgery went very well and we are grateful for the contributions of so many people and the messages of support we received from a large number of others in Australia and Somaliland who kept Ayan in their thoughts and prayers today,” Dr Arvier and Dr Chin said.

Ms Mohamed is expected to be in The Wesley Hospital for about a week and then will continue to be monitored as an outpatient.

The Wesley Hospital is part of UnitingCare Health. UnitingCare Health is covering Ms Mohamed’s hospital stay, theatre and other costs as part of its missional service.

Original: Wesley Hospital Press Release, Feb. 22

Update: Saturday, Feb. 22, by Dr. Arvier

Just been to check on Ayan – she’s still comfortable in ICU, no bleeding, and even gave me a bit of a grin (through her narcotic haze).

More tmw

John Arvier

Update: Saturday, Feb. 22, by Edna

AlHamdulilah, Thank God.
Ayan had her surgery today.
It took 11 hours to fix what it took a bullet to damage in a few seconds 25 years ago.
I was allowed in the OR throughout and am so grateful and happy to see how the great team of experts at the Wesley looked after Ayan.
What a pleasure to see the best in action.

Update: Friday, Feb. 21, by Edna

Ayan had her last blood tests and meeting with speech-therapist as she will need to learn to eat, drink and speak after the operations.

She gets into hospital early at 6am tomorrow and had to have her hair shaved off this afternoon.

She is a brave girl and quite cool about it. I guess after you wait for something for over 25 years, you are quite prepared for everything.
Having been on Australian TV on several occasions, people are recognizing her in the street and hospital corridors and wishing her good luck and speedy recovery.

We also went to meet the great team at Minter Ellison who took care of the Visa issues.

Ayan also had a ride in a riverboat today to have a look at the city from the river (she had never seen a river either).

Dr Arvier and the Rotarians are a great group who are so warm and welcoming.

As a globe trotter, I wonder why I left the best Continent to the last!

Update: Friday, Feb. 21, by Noela Phillips

A quick email to let you know that this week, with its whirlwind of medical visits for Ayan, has progressed very well. It’s now close to 6 pm Brisbane time Friday, 21 st, and Ayan enters hospital very early tomorrow for her scheduled surgery at 8.00 am. She has an extremely positive mind set and has taken the medical appointments all in her stride.

This morning, “four girls” Edna, Ayan, Rosemary Meadows (Brisbane High-Rise Rotarian) and myself enjoyed a wonderful 40 minute ferry ride from the Queensland University Ferry terminal, along the Brisbane River to Brisbane City where Minter Ellison Lawyers‘ offices are located. Ayan and Edna were in awe of how beautiful the city reaches are. Ayan went under bridges, saw HighRise buildings and fell in love with the trees lining the river banks and city streets. Edna said that her pet cow would be most annoyed that her “mother” (Edna) was taking in the view of beautiful green riverbanks and she had to chew on brown grass!!

Edna and Ayan were entertained by Phi, Megan and Chani, the awesome legal team who “hung in” for the 2 year marathon, on the 22nd floor of their building. The ceiling to floor glass windows provided us all with magnificent river views and close-ups of the soaring apartment and business buildings. Edna indicated she would never get any work done with “those” views and Ayan said “how am I ever going to tell everybody back home what I’ve seen”. It was here that Ayan expressed her dream is to become a doctor!

I will send through additional photos.

Kind regards,

Much of Somalia is in rebellion against the dictator Siaad Barre and Ayaan is a little girl just two years old living in the Northwest Somali town of Burao.

Three years from now, in 1991, her town will be the site where representatives from this region, called Somaliland, will gather to say, “Enough!,” declaring Somaliland a republic independent of Somalia and its many troubles.

But on this day in 1988, that bright future is of little consolation to young Ayaan and her family because her face has been shattered by a stray bullet.


Here are some photos, which we will add to over time. We will also add to the news articles below as we learn of them.

Before leaving for Australia, Edna made a stop at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital to congratulate her long-time friend Catherine Hamlin on her nomination to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ayan Mohamed and Edna Ismail at a press conference at The Wesley, Brisbane, Australia

Somaliland’s former first lady and former government minister Edna Adan Ismail travelled with Ms Mohamed for the surgery. Mrs Ismail recalled the story of when she met Ms Mohammed as a teenager 11 years ago.

A global effort to bring Ms Mohamed to Brisbane for surgery will culminate in a 10-hour operation on Saturday at The Wesley Hospital at Auchenflower.

Somaliland’s former first lady and former government minister Edna Adan Ismail travelled with Ms Mohamed for the surgery.

Mrs Ismail recalled the story of when she met Ms Mohammed as a teenager 11 years ago.

“I have a small hospital (Edna Adan Hospital) which I started to build when I retired from the United Nations,” Mrs Ismail said.
“A year after the hospital opened, a mother comes to me with a teenage daughter.
“The mother said, ‘Edna can you help? Can you do anything for my daughter’?
“I said I would like to help but we cannot and we don’t have the facilities and expertise but I promise you I will do everything I can to find a solution.”

Mrs Ismail embarked on a global mission to find a solution.

After hearing Ayan’s plight, High-Rise and Mitchelton Rotary Clubs met in March 2012 to form a strategy to bring her to Brisbane – the first time the two Rotary Clubs had worked on such a project.

Dr John Arvier discusses what is involved with the surgery using a 3D model at the press

Ayan Mohamed and Edna Ismail at a press conference at The Wesley Brisbane Australia

An American supporter for the Edna Adan Hospital had pledged to provide Ms Mohamed’s airfare to any country where surgery could be performed.

The two clubs knew of no specific humanitarian program under which Ms Mohamed would qualify so they pledged to raise funds and seek support to bring her to Brisbane.

Rotary High-Rise Club member and oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the Wesley Dr John Arvier will perform the surgery on Saturda Dr John Arvier discusses what is involved with the surgery using a 3D model at the press conference.

“The initial maxillofacial stage of the surgery will replace missing bone, skin and soft tissue bulk in Ms Mohamed’s face, as well as correcting significant dental deformities,” Dr Arvier said.
“The first stage will involve affixing custom made implants to remake the rim of the eye socket, the upper part of the cheek bone and the missing portion of the top jaw.
“To address the significant facial asymmetry as a result of deviation of the jaw bone to one side, the chin point will be laterally repositioned to align more closely with the centre of her face.
“The second stage of plastic surgery involves a composite graft – of skin and of cartilage – to reconstruct the missing nostril wall and provide a skin coverage to the temporalis muscle replacing the bulk of the nose and face.”

Mrs Ismail translated for Ms Mohamed who said she was “happy and looking forward to it (surgery).”

“The hardest thing has always been when somebody asks what happened to your face. It just hurts me,” Ms Mohamed said. The experience in Australia has already had many moments of high spirit.

“She rode on an elevator for the first time and we had few lessons to learn how to ride the escalator.”

Ms Mohamed has a two-year-old daughter Marwa who remained in Somaliland with her grandmother.

Somaliland Community Of Australia
Abdi Elmi

Original Article: Ayan Mohamed and Edna Ismail at a press conference at The Wesley, Brisbane, Australia

Woman shot in face waits 23 years for surgery

Ayan Mohamed wears a niqab that covers her face, not for religious reasons but to hide what lies beneath.

“She wears it to cover the deformity. She covers it because people would stare, children would cry,” says Edna Adan Ismail, Somaliland’s former foreign minister and first lady. “It’s not easy to look at.”

Ismail founded the region’s first maternity hospital, The Edna Adan University Hospital. The facility is now a bustling general clinic providing care to all.

For 11 years, she’s been seeking help to repair Mohamed’s face, which was torn apart by shrapnel during the Somali Civil War. Mohamed was just two years old when she was injured.

She is now 25 and can’t close her right eye. Food falls from the hole in her cheek when she tries to eat. She’s long learned to deal with stares and awkward questions.

“The hardest thing for her is when somebody asks what happened to her face,” Ismail says, translating the softly spoken words from Mohamed, who’s seated beside her. “It just hurts me,” Mohamed says.

They’re sitting at a press conference in Brisbane, Australia, a shiny modern city some 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) — and a world away — from her home and her daughter in Burao, northwest Somaliland in the Horn of Africa. Her child, Marwa, is just two years old, the same age as Mohamed when she was so horrifically injured.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. John Arvier from the Wesley Hospital is explaining the extent of the damage to her face and what’s going to be done to fix it by a team of experts, who are offering their services for free.

“Essentially Ayan is missing most of the tissue of her midface from the bottom part of the eye socket, the whole top jaw and most of the cheekbone and her palate,” Arvier says.

“The surgery will involve replacing, with a small synthetic implant, the rim of the eye socket. Then the bulk of the missing tissue will be replaced by muscle that comes up under the cheekbone on the side of the head.”

Skin taken from her forearm will be moved to her face, and a plastic surgeon will also use cartilage from her ear to rebuild her nostril. Extensive dental work will then be needed to reshape her smile.

From behind her veil, Mohamed expresses her faith in the team of surgeons. “I’m confident, I’m not worried.”

Ismail adds, “She’s a brave woman. She’s had to live with this a long time… she’s very relaxed. I’m the one who’s falling apart.”

She first heard of Mohamed’s plight when the girl’s mother went to her hospital several years ago seeking help. Then, the hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland had been open just one year and didn’t have the expertise to deal with Mohamed’s problems. It still doesn’t.

Ismail spread the word about Mohamed’s injuries and a website was built. Photos were taken. And, since it was uploaded to YouTube in 2009, a video about Mohamed’s need for help has been viewed more than two million times.

Two years ago, a group of Rotarians in Australia met and vowed to bring Mohamed to the country for surgery. It wasn’t easy.

There’s no postal service in Somaliland so something as simple as sending a letter required outside help. And then there was the travel — Mohamed had to travel hundreds of kilometers to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for scans, x-rays and assessments.

Just when the medical challenges seemed to have been resolved, the Australian government refused Mohamed’s visa application. It was the second time a country had denied her approval to enter because her injuries weren’t deemed to be life threatening.

“Since this is not a growing cancer or a heart condition or a situation that could kill her overnight, I guess some people would classify that as not life threatening,” Ismail says. “But then when you’re a young women what’s more life threatening than not having a face?”

“The first visa denial was from the United States, and that was hard. And then when the visa was denied a second time in Australia, we thought ‘who will have the courage to tell this to Ayan?’,” she says.

“Here’s a woman who’s only begging to have medical treatment which she’s not able to access anywhere else. I’m glad that the decision was reversed,” she adds.

Since Mohamed arrived in Brisbane there have been a number of firsts.

“She saw a river for the first time yesterday,” Ismail says. “And walking up to this conference room she saw fish in a fish tank for the first time.

“She rode an elevator for the first time (and) we had a few lessons to learn how to ride the escalator — we had a few almost-trips but we’re here,” she laughs.

Ayan will undergo surgery on Saturday. Recovery will take weeks, if not months.

When the scars have healed Ayan hopes to be able to face the world for the first time with nothing to hide.

“She says she’s looking forward to removing this,” Ismail says, motioning toward the black niqab that cloaks Ayan’s features, “and to have a face like everyone else.”

Original Article: Woman shot in face waits 23 years for surgery

Article from the Brisbane Times

Ayan Mohamed’s eyes dart around the room, taking everything in.

For a 25-year-old who has only just ridden an escalator for the first time 30 hours ago, the room, with its journalists, well wishers and Wesley Hospital staff is a lot to take in.

She cannot understand the buzz of English words that fly around her. But she knows she is the reason for the buzz, that every voice in the room speaks about her.

Her eyes express everything she is thinking.

Since gunshot injuries, received when she was just two years old, destroyed the right side of her face, robbing her of the ability to eat and drink properly and close one of her eyes, her eyes, a deep brown, are all she has shown the world.

Until Saturday.

Then, a team of doctors and specialists, who are giving their time and expertise freely, will fill a donated Wesley Hospital theatre room to rebuild what the Somali civil war took away.

Once they are finished, Ms Mohamed will not only see her entire face for the first time, she will be free to remove her veil and show her toddler daughter, Morwa, what her mother looks like.

It will be a moment that has been a lifetime in the making.

Eleven years ago, Ms Mohamed’s mother took her to the Edna Adan University Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, to see if the newly established facility could do anything for her daughter.

There she met Edna Adan Ismail, who had established the hospital to combat infant and maternal mortality in her homeland. Mrs Ismail removed Ms Mohamed’s veil and saw what the ravages of war had done to the child. She said she looked into her eyes and promised her she would do everything she could to help.

“After many attempts and many, many, many failures, over 11 years, the Rotary Clubs of your country, of Brisbane, have finally made it happen,” Mrs Ismail said.

“It has been a long journey for us. She is now the mother of a two-year-old daughter. I am very emotional and very appreciative that this long journey is going to give a young woman her face back.”

Dr John Arvier, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the Wesley Hospital, who has worked with patients from developing countries through the Rotary Oceania Medical Aid of Children program, learnt of Ms Mohamed’s case through a fellow Rotary Club member, Ken Parker.

As Ms Mohamed was too old to qualify for ROMAC assistance, a fundraising mission was launched. Money and assistance came from all over the world. Documents were flown back and forth across the globe. When the lack of a postal service in Somaliland threatened to hold up the process, local networks were established to ensure delivery. Ms Mohamed made the 1400 kilometre journey from her small town to Ethiopia for medical tests time and time again. Those results were sent back to the Australian medical and dental team, who worked out a surgery plan. It wasn’t perfect – documents were lost and had to be re-sent. Travel in the developing nation took time. Two years. But finally everything was in place.

Then the Gillard government denied Ms Mohamed a medical visa, on the grounds her condition was not life threatening.

“The first visa denied was from the United States,” Mrs Ismail said.

“And that was hard. And then when the visa was denied for a second time in Australia, we just thought ‘who is going to have the courage to tell Ayan?’. We had to absorb this for a day and a half before we could to tell her. But we had to tell her. It was not easy. Here is a woman who is only begging to have medical treatment, that she is not able to access anywhere else.

“I am so glad that the decision was reversed, thanks to many people, many people.”

While Rotary and a volunteer legal team worked to find a way, online petitions were launched to lobby the federal government to change its mind. A second visa application was made in October and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison approved it in January.

The medical team mobilised and arrangements were put in place to bring Ms Mohamed to Brisbane immediately.

Since touching down, Ms Mohamed has seen her first river. She has quickly mastered riding escalators, entered her first lift and watched tropical fish swim around a tank in awe. She has been embraced by the local Somaliland community, who will help care for her the week after she is released from hospital. And she has been shown a 3-D model of her skull and learnt how doctors will piece her cheek, chin, teeth and eye socket back together, using implants and skin from her forearm in a day long operation.

It is a lot to take in. But speaking through Mrs Ismail, Ms Mohamed said she was not scared.

“She is a brave woman,” Mrs Ismail said

“She has had to live with this for a long time. She is confident in the expertise available here is the best and there is no solution for her anywhere else. There could not be a better place for her to be.

“She is very relaxed. I am the one who is falling apart.”

Ms Mohamed will spend the week following her operation recovering in hospital. Her doctors expect to be able to give an update on Tuesday.

Original Article: Original: Ayan Mohamed’s long wait for facial reconstruction almost over

Doctors will give war victim new face

AYAAN Mohamed’s face was disfigured when she was shot as an infant during Somalia’s brutal civil war, but soon the young African woman will have “a face like everyone else”.

The 25-year-old from Somaliland will have surgery in the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane on Saturday to rebuild her face, repairing wounds she suffered as an infant.

Ms Mohamed flew to Brisbane with former Somaliland first lady Edna Adan Ismail with the help of two local Rotary clubs, who helped fund-raise and secure her visa.

“She’s happy and looking forward to it,” Ms Ismail said, translating for Ms Mohamed.

“She’s happy to get her face back.

“The hardest thing for her has always been when somebody asks ‘what happened to your face?’ She said: ‘It just hurts me’.”

Ms Mohamed sat covered in a veil, with only her eyes showing, during a press conference at the hospital on Tuesday. She prefers to keep her injuries hidden from view.

She fought back tears when asked to describe her ordeal.

Ms Ismail, who founded the Edna Adan Hospital in Hargesia, where Ms Mohamed first sought help as a teenager, said Ms Mohamed was confident about the surgery.

“She said she’s looking forward to … having a face like everyone else.”

Dr John Arvier, who will head the surgical team, said the operation should be relatively straightforward and would require tissue from the side of her face, skin from her forearm and a synthetic implant to cover a hole between her eye socket and jaw.

Ms Mohamed was denied a medical visa last March.

But Immigration Minister Scott Morrison approved a second visa application, made in October, after he was petitioned by more than 40,000 people on her behalf.

Original Article: Doctors will give war victim new face

Shot Ayaan to get ‘new face’

Ayaan Mohamed’s face was disfigured when she was shot as an infant during Somalia’s brutal civil war, but soon the young African woman will have “a face like everyone else”.

The 25-year-old from Somaliland will have surgery in the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane on Saturday to rebuild her face, repairing wounds she suffered as an infant.

Mohamed flew to Brisbane with former Somaliland first lady Edna Adan Ismail with the help of two local Rotary clubs, who helped fund-raise and secure her visa.

“She’s happy and looking forward to it,” Ismail said, translating for Mohamed. “She’s happy to get her face back.

“The hardest thing for her has always been when somebody asks ‘what happened to your face?’

She said: ‘It just hurts me’.’

Mohamed sat covered in a veil, with only her eyes showing, during a press conference at the hospital on Tuesday.

She prefers to keep her injuries hidden from view.

She fought back tears when asked to describe her ordeal.

Ismail, who founded the Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa, where Mohamed first sought help as a teenager, said Mohamed was confident about the surgery.

“She said she’s looking forward to … having a face like everyone else.”

Dr John Arvier, who will head the surgical team, said the operation should be relatively straightforward and would require tissue from the side of her face, skin from her forearm and a synthetic implant to cover a hole between her eye socket and jaw.

Mohamed was denied a medical visa last March.

But Immigration Minister Scott Morrison approved a second visa application, made in October, after he was petitioned by more than 40,000 people on her behalf.

Shot Ayaan to get ‘new face’

Australia Approves Ayaan's Visa!

Edna is crying tears of joy and relief today. [See below for an update the next day, Jan 4!]

After years of struggle and frustration, all now seems to be on track for Ayaan to travel to Australia for facial reconstruction surgery.

Edna today received word that, on appeal, Australia has approved Ayaan’s visa so that she may now travel to Brisbane for the surgeries that are needed to repair her face. As a young child in 1988, during the Somalia civil war, Ayaan was shot in the face. All these years she has suffered. She came to Edna for help and, of course, Ayaan’s needs are far beyond what help Edna Hospital is able to provide.

Edna is very especially grateful to the Brisbane Rotary Club and to Dr. John Arvier, who will provide free care for Ayaan.

Friend of Edna Hospital, Devin Foxall helped to raise awareness of Ayaan’s circumstances by compiling the following video. That generated enough donations to cover Ayaan’s anticipated travel and living expenses while in Brisbane.

Ayaan has, of course, never before traveled far. She traveled to Djibouti in a failed attempt to gain a visa to the USA. And to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, frequently for medical evaluation. Edna hopes to be able to accompany Ayaan to Australia – but Edna’s own visa application remains to be approved.

I am so happy to get the information that Ayan has been granted a Visa to enter Australia!

It has been such a long road for all and am so grateful and happy to know that it has not been all in vain.

The flip-side is, my application is still pending but am not worried as long as Ayaan gets her operation.

~ Edna Adan, Jan 3, 2014

See More:

Jan. 4, 2014
Yesterday, I cried twice with happiness.

First when I heard that Ayaan’s Visa to enter Australia had been granted so she could go there and have the necessary facial reconstruction that she has needed for the past twenty more years.

The second time was last night when a woman was brought to us with a ruptured uterus and almost dead with a dead fetus also inside. Our team started on her resuscitation before she could even be touched and got five units of blood into her. They called me at 11:30 pm and found teams working on different areas; the Laboratory getting blood donations from family as well as staff ( one security guard and a gatekeeper whose wife had been saved here some five or six years ago also donated blood); the Anesthesia team keeping her alive with infusions and intubation so she could be oxygenated, and the surgeons operating while the nursing staff assisted with efficiency.

While this woman was on the table, another woman was brought in also pregnant and bleeding but this time with a living baby.
Staff had to also look after several other patients needing care and attention.

Thank God, both women are alive and well today with the woman with the bleeding feeding her baby.

I cannot describe how proud I am to have a team like the people I saw working last night and grateful that we are blessed to be there for these women.

These are the kinds of health workers we need to train for our people.

~ Edna

Ayaan Facial Reconstruction

2013 Year-End Newsletter

2013 Year-End Newsletter

We are amending our year-end newsletter to include these two late-breaking news items: 

1) We are very pleased (but not surprised) to learn that Edna has been named among the 100 most influential Africans of 2013 by New African magazine.  Edna joins other notable figures such as Bishop Desmond TutuMrs. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, first woman President of the African Union; Mo Farah Gold Medalist athlete and fellow-countryman; Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee; and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria Finance Minister.  The list, which appears in the December 2013 issue, describes Edna as “at the forefront of the fight for women’s maternal health in Somaliland.”

Edna's Father, whose legacy inspires her still

Edna’s Father, whose legacy inspires her still

2) Edna lost most of her family photos in the coup that overthrew her husband, the democratic Prime Minister; but late in 2013 she recovered a photo of her father, “I am happy to have found a picture of my late father who remains to be my role-model to this day and was also the person who inspired me to build this hospital which I hope is the kind of hospital he would have liked to work in. I love the way his picture has been superimposed on the hospital and hope that I will accomplish a fraction of what he did during his service to our people when he was known as ‘The father of healthcare in British Somaliland Protectorate’.”

It’s hard to believe that 2013 is almost over – time flies when you’re busy and saving lives! During this holiday season, we at Edna Adan University Hospital want to take a moment to reflect upon the successes of the past year, learn from the frustrations and challenges we encountered, give thanks for our blessings and to all our friends and supporters while we look forward to 2014.
Hence, our newsletter is longer this year so bear with us!

2013 in Review

Education and Training

Teaching and training young healthcare professionals remain a priority and are not new at Edna Adan Hospital as we’ve been training nurses, midwives, laboratory technicians and pharmacists since 2001. What is new is that we’ve now expanded into a university and opened our doors to more than 250 aspiring students who hope to become nurses, midwives, pharmacologists and public health specialists. The first year has been tough and challenging, but President Roda Ali Ahmed, the first and only woman who heads a university in our part of the world, and her dedicated team have created a university where young students receive quality education in a disciplined yet nurturing environment. Students take core subjects such as English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and religious studies before being split into their specialized fields.

Students at Edna University

Edna University offers practical sessions within the Hospital, taught by local and visiting experts, as well as field work at other institutions across the country. Our students are introduced to academic research; current students have conducted surveys on migration and health-seeking behavior of Somaliland citizens. With support from the Fistula Foundation, Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, NNM and Amoud University, we established a nurse-anesthetist training program. The class of seven students includes three young women, and all have progressed from the classroom to the operating theater over the course of the year and are now assisting surgeons with minimal supervision.

In addition, we have partnered with Amoud University and SOMDEV to receive one physician each month from among the doctors enrolled in the Postgraduate Family Physician course, which is the first such course in Somaliland

Our University opened its doors to a further 300 new students in November who are ready to embark upon their academic journey. The overwhelming success of the University is leading to physical changes to our campus as well. New classrooms have sprung up to accommodate our growth, and a new computer lab will be furnished and functional by the end of the year. Further growth is sure to come as we establish ourselves as a leading institute of higher learning.

Training programs within the Hospital itself continued as always. A new class of 41 remarkable young Community Midwives graduates in December and will be assigned by the Ministry of Health to be deployed to all corners of Somaliland where, in some cases, they will be the only skilled health workers for miles around. 2013 also saw the graduation of 46 young women and 11 young men from our three-year general nursing training course.

Edna with USA Nursing Students
Edna greeted an enthusiastic group nursing students on a visit to the USA in October

We continue our efforts to reduce and eventually to eliminate from this region the scourge of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

New mother with premature infant
Little Mohamed, aka Tiger, held by his mother Layla in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Hospital Staff and Services

On the medical side, we remained extremely busy. In 2013, approximately 1400 women gave birth in the Hospital, including 200 by Caesarian section. We treated over 27,000 patients in total, either in the Hospital or in our Outpatient Clinic. Our dear friend Dr. Dick Bransford led five surgery camps at the Hospital this year, and fistula surgeon Dr. Lauri Romanzi joined us for two extended visits to give life and dignity back to women who suffer obstetrical fistula. During the surgical and fistula camps over 400 patients were operated on at no cost to them.

Sadly, we could not match our record of 2012 when we had ZERO maternal deaths and mourn the loss of three women during childbirth, as well as those in the medical and pediatric wards that we were unable to save.

Dr. Matt Jones and Dr. Joy Robinson of SOMDEV have brought much-needed expertise in the area of pediatrics and general surgery. Our own doctors, Dr. Said and Dr. Deeq, continued to shoulder senior responsibilities while Dr. Shukri and Dr. Naima continued their professional growth and development and received training to become the first national trainers on infant resuscitation. They also attended their first international event this year, the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) conference in Addis Ababa.

Surgery at Edna Hospital
Surgery at Edna Hospital

Dr. Naima continues to focus on obstetrics and gynecology while Dr. Shukri is turning into a talented surgeon who is very much in demand during surgery camps. Our hospital was supported by a mini-United Nations of volunteers, including generous individuals from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia, India, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.

This year we also bid goodbye to Dr. Robert Thiel and his wife Jennifer who devoted several years to help the sick and the underprivileged population of Somaliland. We miss them and wish them well in their future endeavors.

Thank You

Edna with Diane Lane
Edna with Half the Sky “co-star” Diane Lane, together again recently

We have received incredible support and generosity over the past year, as we have every year, and we want to express our deep appreciation toward the Government of Somaliland, particularly the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, and to all of our international friends and well-wishers.

Just a few of our good friends who merit particular mention for their assistance in 2013 are: Friends of Edna’s Maternity Hospital; The Fistula Foundation; Direct Relief; UNFPA; Humanity Direct; Australian Doctors for Africa; Gradian Health Systems; Embrace; ConnectHer, National Nurses Association (USA) and Combe Incorporated.

On behalf of the Edna Adan Hospital Foundation, we would like to thank AOL Impact, DLA Piper, Vagisil and ConnectHer for their continued support.

Once again, we thank Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn for their continued support; their Half the Sky documentary has opened the eyes of many to the plight of women in the developing world.

In Memoriam

The Hospital community lost a dear friend when Robert T. (Bob) Gilhuly passed away on August 26 following a long illness. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Anne (dear friend and former Treasurer of the Friends of Edna’s Maternity Hospital) and to the rest of the Gilhuly family.

Plans for 2014

Newly constructed Edna Hospital Radiology Unit
Newly constructed Edna Hospital Radiology Unit

It will be hard to top the year we just had, but we’re ready to try. Construction on our new imaging center is complete and we will be open for business in 2014. We have a new x-ray machine and hope to add mammography in the near future. The University plans to add a three-year program in dental hygiene and technology. A new charitable organization, The Edna Hospital Foundation, has been established in the US and expects strong growth in the coming year.

We also plan to launch training for female secondary school teachers in 2014. We see too many schoolgirls whose foundational skills are deficient, an unfortunate result of Somaliland’s education system collapsing during the civil war, and we’d like to do something about it. In our first year, we hope to train 50 female secondary school teachers from all over the country. The course will run for two years and will focus not only on fundamental subjects such as mathematics, English and science, but also such topics as first aid, personal hygiene and deportment to empower women.

We wish all of our friends and supporters a joyous holiday season and many blessings in the coming year because we would never have achieved what we have without your support.

Edna Adan Ismail
Hargeisa, Somaliland, East Africa

Today (Dec. 3) is Giving Tuesday. Please Help to Support Edna Hospital

Edna Adan Hospital Foundation Launch Event

Contact: Rukia Dahir
Cell: (202) 680-0450


October 25, 2013

Former First Lady and Foreign Minster of Somaliland, Launches Edna Adan Hospital Foundation

A US-Based Charity Backs Efforts to Decrease Maternal Mortality, Increase Training of Nurses and Midwives

Washington, DC — Edna Adan, the founder of the Edna Adan University Hospital in Somaliland will be honored tonight at a reception at the Dacor Bacon House located at 1801 F Street, NW Washington, DC. A press conference with Edna Adan will be conducted immediately before the event at 5:30 PM Friday October 25th. All press are encouraged to attend to meet this dynamic woman.

This is one of two inaugural events for the newly commissioned Edna Adan Hospital Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing equipment and scholarships for the Hospital’s midwife and nursing programs. “I am very appreciative that the Edna Adan Hospital Foundation has been set up in Washington, DC in order to help us provide healthcare to poor patients, as well as provide training of health workers back home. It is also a foundation that has been initiated by Somalilanders to develop their self-help initiatives,” states Edna Adan, Founder and Director of the Edna Adan University Hospital.

Edna Adan was featured in the PBS documentary “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” based on the book by the same name by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and enjoys ongoing support from actress Diane Lane who participated at a luncheon co-hosted by the Edna Adan Hospital Foundation and Vagisil earlier this month.

Edna Adan has been conducting training programs since 2001 with a goal of training 1,000 skilled nurses and midwives. The program is sorely needed. An unrecognized but sovereign state, Somaliland has enjoyed peace and relative stability for the past 22 years. Somaliland is self-governing, has its own monetary system, issues its own passports and conducts diplomatic relations with various neighboring countries. Somaliland operates a local police and military, ensuring stability in the country, yet the only consistent source of quality medical care in the country is provided by the Edna Adan University Hospital.

“Edna is a personal hero of mine because of her courage, her generosity and her commitment to women’s health. Her hospital is a prime example of what we strive to fund at Fistula Foundation. She’s earned the love and respect of her community, and women know that they can rely on her hospital for high-quality treatment provided in a culturally sensitive manner,” said Kate Grant, CEO of Fistula Foundation, a nonprofit that funds treatment at Edna Adan University Hospital and at 37 other sites around the world for the childbirth injury of obstetric fistula. Somaliland has one of the world’s highest rates of infant and maternal mortality. This correlates with the cultural practice of female cutting, which is still prevalent in many parts of Africa. The Edna Adan University Hospital is a major community effort to increase health care for women in Somaliland.

High quality photos of this event will be available at www.ednafoundation.org.

About the Edna Adan Hospital Foundation

The Edna Adan Hospital Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, which exists to raise awareness and increase support for the Edna Adan University Hospital located in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Our mission is to provide critical resources and to increase the number of trained nurses, midwives, laboratory and pharmaceutical technicians in Somaliland. For more information, visit www.ednafoundation.org.


Scroll Up