With the assistance of Robbins, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Abdi chronicles the ravages of the ongoing civil war in Somalia and her efforts to establish a safe haven amid the destruction.
The author begins in 1960, when, at the age of 13, she witnessed the end of colonial occupation. She describes the first years of independence as a glorious time. After a border war with Ethiopia and severe drought, corruption and civil strife emerged, and people turned to their clans for protection. Violence followed as warlords clashed and rampaged across the land. “An entire generation has grown up without law and order,” writes the author, providing fertile ground for Muslim fundamentalism to take hold. Against this backdrop, Abdi's accomplishments are remarkable. Although raised in a traditional male-dominated society, she liberated herself and got a formal education, receiving a scholarship abroad to train as a physician. Returning, she was one of only 60 physicians in Somalia, 35 of whom worked in the hospital to which she was assigned. She married, and she and her husband moved to land on the outskirts of Mogadishu that was owned by her family. Abdi continued working at the hospital while starting a clinic for mothers and children on the property, and her husband farmed the land. As the political condition in the country deteriorated, the farm provided food and a haven for refugees. Despite threats to her safety and her husband's desertion, she stayed and organized support from international organizations. In 2010, the enclave of the farm, which by then sheltered 91,000 people, was overrun and destroyed. She was forced to live abroad, where she continued her advocacy for the people of her homeland.
A poignant account of personal bravery, love, and loss and a chronicle of the tragedy of our times.