Umra Omar of Safari Doctors is the ‘2017 UN Person of the Year’Tirus Wainaina
The UN team in Kenya on Friday 8th December 2017 awarded Umra Omar of Safari Doctors as the 2017 UN person of the year in an award ceremony occasioned by the UN country team and Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN office in Nairobi. Her recognition is as a result of her tireless efforts in delivering primary healthcare to over a dozen marginalized communities in her home County of Lamu.
This award not only commends her for her great commitment towards helping Kenya achieve sustainable development goals but also reminds all that achieving global healthcare requires efforts from all. Upon completing her graduate studies in Washington, D.C., Umra returned home in Lamu to assist her community. She learned about a life-saving medical aid project that had been abandoned because of security concerns. That’s how she got so concerned and decided to launch Safari Doctors, a community based movement through which she carries out her medical safaris.
Lamu County is vast island that is often faced with situations of insecurity which impede access to healthcare. With Safari Doctors, Umra and her group of nine staff and medical volunteers move around the county on boat clinics and motorbikes to reach up to 800 patients every month.
While accepting the award at the UN office in Nairobi, Umra made an appeal to University students, government officials, diplomats and UN staff members present – to all try and put in their little efforts in helping vulnerable communities.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned at Safari Doctors is that a lot of the solutions to the challenges we try to solve come from within the communities themselves. We must therefore take keen interest in community based solutions as opposed to top-down solutions.” She added.
Also at the ceremony was Ms. Mary Ngechu who was awarded as runners up and commended for changing lives through promoting skills, decent jobs and enterprises in the manufacturing industry in Kenya.
The selection of the “UN in Kenya Award of the Year” is made after an extensive round of consultations and voting among all 25 United Nations agencies based in Kenya. Selections, therefore are as a result of fierce competition with other nominees who also do excellent work in their communities.