Parting Shot from Faisa Ibrahim
Many of you might not have had the chance to interact with the soft-spoken and always smiling lady knows as Faisa. With her petite frame, she can almost go unnoticed in the office but when you have a chance to interact with this charismatic woman, she commands your attention and that is what happened when I asked to interview her for our first article on the ‘parting shot’. This is not the first time I am speaking to Faisa but the first to sit one on one with her. I first came to know about her during the launch of our Stolen Childhood Report, as Director of Planning for Somaliland government when we invited her to speak at the launch.
Faisa Ibrahim joined Save the Children not too long ago in May of 2018 as the Director for CHASP based in Garowe. The title is quite a mouthful but it stands for Community, Health and Social Accountability Programme. CHASP is the largest development project currently for Save the Children in Somalia and Somaliland with a budget of over $16 million running for the next 3 years.
She spent most of her childhood and the early years of her adult life in the United Kingdom where she was educated. Even before moving back to Somaliland to work for the government, she always knew in her heart that one day she would move back home. In 2013, Faisa took up a job with the Somaliland government as Advisor to Minister of Health albeit for a short stint before she was promoted to Director Planning until early 2018 when her passion to working for children drew her to Save the Children. So it is no surprise that when she accepted her appointment to government, she saw this as a way to give back to her community and to use the knowledge and skills she had acquired to change things back home.
For personal reasons, Faisa later resigned from her government job and joined Save the Children in May 2018. In her capacity as a civil servant, she had the opportunity to work with Save the Children during the emergency response 2016/17 and supported the formation of ICCM and the Health Consortium for Somalia now known as CHANGE project.
Faisa’s turning point came knocking very close to home. While in the UK, she had a niece born with a congenital heart defect and with abnormalities to her respiratory system. This meant spending long days and nights by her side in the Neonatal intensive care unit. She couldn’t help but think with all the high level healthcare systems in the UK, the doctors still could not pick up her niece’s condition in time to save her life and this really made her question the whole health care system and wondered how many children die all over the world for lack of such facilities especially back home in Somaliland. Going through this experience only made her more zealous to want to make a change and when she joined the Ministry for Health, her mission was to champion the opening of the first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Somaliland. Even though everyone laughed and told her this was impossible when she first voiced her dream, she helped set up the first NICU with the help of a Norwegian organization NNM and UNFPA. She holds the hope that in future, all the regional hospitals will have these facilities set up.
When Faisa is not working in the office, she is busy running her spa in Hargeisa. She is a strong believer of self-care and recommends having a healthy lifestyle by watching what you eat and exercising. She enjoys hiking and working out whenever she can. She is also an aunt, a role very close to her heart and that which she takes very seriously.
Faisa’s parting shot and vision is to see an Africa free of disease, drought, childhood and maternal mortality and suffering. Africa is wealthy and its resources should be beneficial to its people.
Interview by Alexandra Chege & Zamzam Idris