Umra Omar was born on Pate Island in the Lamu archipelago on the coast of Kenya. Umra excelled in her studies while growing up in Nairobi, and she decide to pursue higher education in the United States. Umra earned her bachelor’s in neuroscience and psychology at Oberlin College, and then went on to pursue her master’s in social justice and intercultural relations at the World Learning Institute in Vermont. Umra began her career in Washington, D.C., but shortly thereafter, she realized felt a longing and a sense of responsibility to return to her native country. She returned to Lamu to explore her purpose and learned about a life-saving medical aid project that had been abandoned because of security concerns. In 2015, she formally launched Safari Doctors to continue this critical work, and has since been recognized as a CNN Hero and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
Safari Doctors provides affordable and appropriate healthcare to marginalized indigenous Aweer and Bajuni communities that live within the Lamu archipelago and on the mainland near the border with Somalia. Neglect and insecurity continue to impede their right to access healthcare and other services. Each month, the team sets sail in a boat loaded with medicines and conducts mobile clinics across at least 8 villages. Safari Doctors is able to reach over 1000 patients a month and their impact is continuing to grow. Safari Doctors also operates a youth Health Ambassadors program, engaging young men and women who receive basic health education and training so that they become empowered to serve their communities and continue to improve health outcomes.
Umra’s vision for her homeland is that it be full of thriving communities, even in the most remote areas, that have consistent access to affordable and effective health solutions and improved livelihoods.
MNSF launched its partnership with Umra and the Safari Doctors team in 2017. Our first grant provided a year’s worth of critical medical supplies for use at the mobile clinics and in the Health Ambassador trainings. We’ve also provided support for Safari Doctors’ operational expenses related to growing their staff and scaling up their reach within Lamu.