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Somali Refugee Now Directing Seattle Clinic that Treated Her as a Child

Coming to the US 26 years ago as a young refugee, Dr. Anisa Ibrahim is now leading the Seattle clinic that took care of her as a patient, K5 News reported.

The rare coincidence occurred after she was recently promoted to Medical Director of Harborview Medical Center’s Pediatrics Clinic.

“It’s one that I’m honored and grateful for, but it’s also one that I’ve worked really hard, to be in a clinic that I am passionate for” said Dr. Ibrahim.

Dr. Ibrahim was brought to the US in 1993 from Somalia when she was six-years-old.

“We got to Kenya in 1992 and by 1993 we were resettled to Seattle,” said Dr. Ibrahim.

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“That is a very short amount of time, the average amount of time a person spends in a refugee camp right now is 17 years.”

She still remembers a tuberculosis outbreak at her refugee camp in Kenya, and her sibling getting the measles. When she arrived in Seattle, she and her sibling received treatment at Harborview Medical Center’s Pediatrics Clinic.

“I can say I know life is tough in a refugee camp,” she said.

“I know life is tough settling into a new country and not speaking English and not knowing where the grocery store is and being isolated from the rest of your family.”

Role Model

Taking the leading position in the clinic, she now reaches out for immigrant and refugee populations.

“It’s amazing seeing children who I saw at three days of life now telling me about their first day of kindergarten,” said Dr. Ibrahim.

As a Somali doctor who wears a hijab, Dr. Ibrahim believes that representation is very important for younger generations.

“There are probably millions of little girls in refugee camps right now that are not being offered the opportunity to get an education. That could probably be the next neurosurgeon,” said Dr. Ibrahim.

“It’s the support that we’re not giving them that makes them different from me. It’s not anything inherent to one particular person.”

Another hijabi role model for American Muslims is Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American (and hijab-wearing) Congresswoman in the US.

Omar’s journey to become the US first Somali-American Muslim lawmaker began in a refugee camp in Kenya when her family was escaping Somalia’s brutal civil war.