ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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Amujae Leader Umra Omar says more resources are needed for girls’ and women’s healthcare in Kenya

“Nobody is as powerful as you are yourself. And that is not something to be feared. That is not something for anybody to turn off. So I would say don’t take no for an answer.”

This is the advice Amujae Leader Umra Omar gave to young Kenyan girls who want to follow in her footsteps as an African woman leader in the Take a Breath with FREO2 podcast.

Ms. Omar shared her experience as the founder of Safari Doctors—the community-based organization she created to deliver healthcare services to rural areas in Kenya. Working to support rural communities in Lamu County, Ms. Omar witnessed first-hand the effect of poverty on girls’ and women’s ability to access vital healthcare services and products, particularly hygiene products. 

Putting the spotlight on the increased rates of cerebral palsy in children, Ms. Omar said that limited healthcare infrastructure in rural areas of Lamu—a county with a narrow mainland and an archipelago of over 65 islands—hinders access to neonatal products, such as medical oxygen. She hoped that Safari Doctors would be able to acquire the necessary mobility equipment to allow it to track deliveries and reach mothers and infants with essential healthcare products. “That would be a dream world,” she added.

Ms. Omar’s achievements at the helm of Safari Doctors earned her the accolade of CNN Hero in 2016. Her journey, however, had very humble beginnings:

“We started with just myself and a nurse on a motorbike… And it has organically grown into being an organization and NGO that has about two dozen staff.”

Asked by the podcast host, Australian journalist Jennifer Hansen, to name a woman whose life has been a source of motivation, Ms. Omar considered former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as “the biggest role model right now.” Being the only democratically elected woman president on the African continent and leading her country following years of conflict is testimony to her power as a woman, Ms. Omar said. 

Listen to the full podcast here: https://bit.ly/3MVwSGX

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