The recent deadly attack on Turkish Airlines security official Saadettin Dogan turned our attention to Somalia again. The tragic incident made me remember the fact that every time you step outside home there, in fact, is another invitation for death. It also called up memories of my trips to this severe region along with dreadful adventures.
I was one of the first journalists to arrive in Somalia, back in 2011. The country was going through a civil war and was in chaos. We had a stopover in Kenya and then flew on East Africa Airways to the Somali capital Mogadishu. From the moment we landed in the country, we were edgy and on guard against any threat as a stray bullet or a bomb would mean death.
My second trip would be three years later in 2014. We immediately realized something had changed in the country from the moment we arrived in. The international Mogadishu Airport looked more modern and safer than before. The roads, for the most part, were renovated. The country had been going through a reconstruction period contributed by Turkey as well. Not only the country but also its future was practically being rebuilt thanks to all these efforts.
Yet, life safety problem remained the same. The government and state buildings were still under the threat of possible bomb attacks. The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab terrorist organization had earlier claimed hundreds. We too hardly escaped one with our lives. We once escaped a bomb explosion by only 45 seconds on our way to the United Nations office.
However, I witnessed in admiration and in awe some altruistic people extending a hand to the Somali people, despite such a dreadful landscape. I can’t find to words to express the devotion of the Bedir Turkish Schools teachers, who wouldn’t leave the country no matter what.
Kimse Yok Mu Foundation, in cooperation with the local Bedir Schools, has definitely undertaken great initiatives, in an effort to combat the famine, drought and tragedy in Somalia. The foundation’s assistance went beyond mere food donations. Established in 2013, Deva Hospital has been one of the most significant permanent aid initiatives of KYM.
The 8-month old hospital’s name has found a mention in many tragic incidents in the country. Its staff provided the first aid to the victims of the attack on the Turkish consulate back in April. The latest victim Saadettin Dogan was too hospitalized here following the deadly shooting. But it was too late for him.
I had a chance to visit the hospital during my latest visit. I saw the hospital’s selfless doctors who spent their annual vacation volunteering here. They were trying to both heal the wounds of the Somali people and train their Somali counterparts for a better service. Though away from home, they were happy to be serving Somalia, the continent’s toughest region with limited access to phone or e-mail. They were working overtime to go help those in orphanages too. They were embracing the children like their own kids. Seeing all these, I said “Thanks God that Somalia has Deva, which cures both patients and the volunteers.”
However, there’s something that I am having hard time understanding. The construction of the hospital kicked off following the Turkish PM Erdogan’s visit to the country has been completed. The 20 million dollar worth hospital, which is to be the Eastern African’s largest, is ready to go. Even its name, Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital, is ready to be nailed on the wall. I am wondering the reason why such a million dollar hospital hasn’t been launched yet.
Excerpted from the article published [in Turkish] on Samanyolu Haber, 30 May 2014, Friday