“Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.” – Safari Doctors
Dr. Umra Omar, 38, from Lamu archipelago in Kenya is Founder, Safari Doctors, a mobile NGO which combs the most remote and terrorist endangered zones in rural Kenya, even in the harshest of climates, travelling via boat, air or even bikes to deliver lifesaving medical services to the less privileged, making life changing impacts in the lives of the women, children and the elderly, launching ahead bravely in the face of threats from militants.
While healthcare might be the norm in the urban world, for the folks who find themselves in the rural areas, it is unaffordable luxury. Umra, from Lamu archipelago in Kenya, is the brain behind Safari Doctors, a community-based social enterprise, working to advance healthcare in her hometown of Lamu, Kenya.
Through her mobile doctors unit since establishment in 2015, she provides free basic medical care to at least 2,000 patients every month in marginalized communities.
“I think humanitarian work needs to stop being a ‘by the way’ thing. It should be something that we are living as the norm,” says Umra.
Born to a family of progressives in a highly traditionally patriarchal community, a grandfather adamant about his daughter’s education, the daughter growing up to become a mother who travelled abroad leaving an infant and a baby across continents in pursuit of higher education, the culture of prioritising women empowerment in her family Influenced her greatly.
Umra spent her early childhood in Tchundwa, Lamu Island, upon completion of the International Baccalaureate program at Atlantic College, she was awarded a scholarship to attend Oberlin College in Ohio. Dr. Umra Omar, completed her first degree in neuroscience and psychology, later proceeding to pursue her master’s degree in social justice: intercultural relations at the World Learning Institute in Vermont.
The humanitarian and community conservation strategist after bagging her degrees from prestigious schools proceeded to work full time in Washington DC, between 2012-2014, she worked back and forth between her home country and New York City.
How Safari Doctors Came About;
In 2014, while on a visit to her hometown in Lamu County, she learnt about a French mobile medical project that had become defunct following increased attacks by terrorist group Al-Shabaab, inspired, she teamed with the nurse, Harrison Kalu to revive what would later become Safari Doctors.
In 2016, Safari Doctors conducted its very first medical sail. Safari Doctors also runs a Youth Health Ambassador program aimed at helping youths maximise their potential as leaders of the future.
As a result of Dr. Umra Omar’s amazing work through her non profit organisation, she was named a Top 10 CNN Hero 2016, UN In Kenya Person of the Year 2017, as well as honoured with Safari Doctors, African Leaders 4 Change Award 2017, Top 40 Under 40 in Kenya 2017, OkayAfrica’s 100 Women 2017 and WEF Young Global Leader 2019.