Umra Omar, 33, left a career in the United States to help those without any access to healthcare in her homeland of Kenya.
Border areas targeted by the terrorist group al-Shabaab have caused aid groups to leave the region. But despite the insecurity, she founded Safari Doctors in 2014 providing free basic medical services, including immunizations, maternal healthcare and treatment for malaria. The group treats more than 1,000 people a year and Omar makes bi-monthly trips as much as possible to help those who desperately need it. In 2016, Umra was voted one of the top 10 CNN Heroes.
Raised in Kenya, she had earned degrees from two prestigious American schools, completed graduate school and was working full-time in Washington, D.C.
But Umra says cubicle life wasn’t for her; she was longing to return to her native country.
“When all is said and done, it feels like a lie to only work to get a pay check,” said Omar, who moved home in 2010. “It was kind of a sense of responsibility.”
On a visit to her childhood community in the islands, she learned about a life-saving medical aid project that had been abandoned because of the security concerns.
Today, Safari Doctors provides free basic medical services – including immunizations, maternal health care and treatment for malaria and other common diseases in the region — to more than 1,000 people a year. Despite the risk, she makes bi-monthly trips as much as possible to help those who desperately need it.