Her singing stopped. The microphone in her hand started shaking. She could feel the water trickling down her legs. My mother placed her hand on her bulging stomach and realized where the water was coming from. Her friends immediately surrounded her, panicking about what to do next. They took her to the nearest hospital but she refused to enter. Rumors had been going around that children were being stolen from the hospitals in the area. Instead, my mother was taken to a family member’s house and they helped with my birth.
This is an everyday reality for most pregnant women in refugee camps. Their only resource is the community around them. I hope to return to my former refugee camp, Kakuma, and become an additional resource as an obstetrician.
My mother is a single refugee mother who raised her ten children by herself. She had to emigrate from Somalia to Kenya once the civil war in Somalia broke out. During her emigration, she was pregnant and had my five other siblings with her. Once they left Somalia, they settled into Kakuma in northwestern Kenya.
My family survived the emigration with the help of the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR), who provided resources for the refugees living in the camp. They have also helped people immigrate to other countries, including my two oldest siblings who moved to Canada with their families in 2007. In 2010, my mother, younger brother and I came to the U.S to live with my grandma. The rest of my siblings and their families still live in Kenya with the hope of someday moving to a better place.
My mother has been trying to get my siblings in Kenya to the U.S., but even after eight years, there has been no change. The separation of my family due to our refugee status has urged me to further my education, which, I believe, will give me enough power to navigate through the immigration system in order to get my family back together.
I am going to be the first individual in my family to go to college, and I am paving the way for my little brother. This puts a lot of pressure on me because my family expects my future to bring them better opportunities. Despite all the pressure, my end goal is having a career that provides me with a substantial salary to support my family and the opportunity to bring them all back together
My career path is in the medical field, which requires me to take a lot of science courses. Many girls are discouraged from going into this field because society underestimates their abilities. Some people believe that the only thing that a girl should be in the medical field is a nurse, but I want to be a doctor. My decision to become a doctor is supported by groups like Eureka!, which empower girls to be leaders in the STEM field.
In the OB/GYN field, patients prefer female doctors to male doctors. I, as a woman, would personally prefer a female to be my doctor when I have to deal with birth and female health concerns. Historically, men have dominated the field, but there’s a growing rate of females who hope to bring comfort and ease to pregnant women. With that said, I want to not only increase the percentage of females in the OB/GYN field but also inspire girls from underdeveloped countries to pursue their dreams.
Back home, girls are discouraged to go to school. As a child in Kenya, I didn’t go to school. I started school as soon as I immigrated to the United States. Even though I will be equipped with my education, I fear that my patients will hold prejudice and discriminate against a doctor from an underdeveloped country. Many assume immigrants in this country aren’t capable of having a high-power career like a doctor. This prejudice, however, only encourages me to dismantle their assumptions and became a great obstetrician, despite my immigration status.
One of the goals I have in life is to give back to the United Nations in Kenya by helping pregnant women in refugee camps. I know that many women don’t have the resources for prenatal care, labor or postpartum care. In fact, many of the women who help with deliveries have never had formal training, which makes labor risky and dangerous. I plan to go back to Kenya once I officially become an OB and become a resource for my childhood community.