Please Help Ayaan Get Facial Reconstruction Surgery
- Introduction to Ayaan
- About Ayaan Today
- Photos of Ayaan
- Edna Adan's Appeal
- Appeal to Somalilanders
The year is 1988 and the Somali Civil War has recently begun...
Much of Somalia is in rebellion against the dictator Siaad Barre and Ayaan is a little girl just two years old living in the Northwest Somali town of Burao.
Three years from now, in 1991, her town will be the site where representatives from this region, called Somaliland, will gather to say, "Enough!," declaring Somaliland a republic independent of Somalia and its many troubles.
But on this day in 1988, that bright future is of little consolation to young Ayaan and her family because her face has been shattered by a stray bullet.
Video produced by Devin Foxall
Today, Ayaan has grown into a young woman of 22 years and she has come to the Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland seeking help. Edna Adan and all of the staff are painfully sympathetic to her suffering but they have no help to offer. The type of facial reconstructive surgery that Ayaan requires is far beyond their means. She will need to find help elsewhere, outside of Somaliland.
Somalilanders have attained de facto independence and have built a peaceful, stable and democratic country of their own; an oasis of calm right next to the chaos that continues to envelop Somalia. But the scars of war remain. And sufficient specialized medical care is not yet available here to address all of the people's needs.
Ayaan keeps her ruined face covered whenever people are about, to escape their horrified stares. She lives in constant shame over her appearance. It was excrutiating pain for her to submit to being photographed at the Edna Hospital. Agony. The only mercy, perhaps, is that she was too young to remember the actual shooting. All that she remembers is a life lived in shame.
In spite of her circumstances, she has had the good fortune to attend school. She reads and writes Somali quite well. And she knows some English, as you can see in the brief video of Ayaan speaking, above.
These photos were taken at the Edna Hospital on June 12, 2009.
If you click on these small photos, you can see them larger.
Medical specialists may refer to much higher-resolution photos of Ayaan's face here, here and here. And, we provide a document from one of the doctors at the Hospital with some more detailed information, this PDF file.
In case you would like to display the following graphic on your web page of Blog, we provide the ready-made code for you at the right. Or else, please display this YouTube video appeal. Ayaan, along with everybody at the Edna Hospital, thanks you for your support!
Video transcript: Edna Adan appeals to the world to help Ayaan.
Edna Adan Ismail
I would like to speak to you about the case of Ayaan Osman, a child who was shot in the face when she was two years old during the Somali Civil War that Somaliland had with Somalia in 1988.
At the time of her injury, Ayaan was taken to a refugee camp where fortunately she was given the medical care that saved her life. Today, Ayaan is a young woman who has taught herself to read and write, not only in Somali but also in English. Unfortunately, Ayaan has a gap in her face. Ayaan has a hole on the side of her face, with a tooth sticking out here and a hole from where food and liquid, as she drinks, pours out from. Ayaan is from Burao and has come to our hospital in Hargeisa to seek help.
Click above to watch the video of Edna Adan's appeal
I was very touched by her case. We get many patients whom we can save. And we also have some patients that we cannot, and we move on. but the case of Ayaan has left a lot of pain in me because I often wonder where I would be if had been the one who had sustained those injuries that Ayaan did when she was two years old. I feel very touched when I see her eat and drink and have to deal with the liquid that is pouring out. I don't know how she does it.
She has lived for 20 years with that condition. And because God has given me a voice and has given me the ability to reach out to the world, that is why I am appealing to the world out there for the medical assistance and the facial reconstruction that Ayaan needs in order to lead a normal life like everybody else does.
I appeal for plastic surgery. I appeal for facial reconstruction for Ayaan and I thank you all for your attention.
- Edna Adan Ismail
One Bullet, One Young Girl: One Dollar
The year is 1988. At the height of the brutal assault by forces of the former Somali dictator Gen. Mohammad Siad Barre against the people of Somaliland, MiG fighters bomb civilian targets and thousands of bodies of dead and wounded litter the streets of major cities. Panicked survivors flee in droves. And, for a two-year old little girl, life will never be the same. Not even decades after the war ends.
Just one stray bullet disfigures her face and alters the course of her life. A small amount of money - so trivial to you, so very significant to her - could reconstruct not only her broken face, but also her wounded dignity.
Dear Reader: Could you spare a buck? Do you have some loose change?
Her name is Ayaan Osman Mohammad. In 1988 as her family fled Burao, the second largest city of Somaliland, tragedy struck. One stray bullet shattered her face near her nose and tore a big hole through her right cheek. The bullet exposed her teeth and left Ayaan's face horribly disfigured. The devastation of Ayaan's trauma on her family is beyond belief; equally sad is the inadequacy of the medical treatment available.
That Ayaan survived at all is thanks to international aid organizations working in neighboring Ethiopia, but they could do little for her.
Like a Ghost from Somaliland's Past
Today, Somaliland people enjoy freedom and peace as the terror of the 80s fades from memory. But, for Ayaan, the brutal war is not yet over. Ayaan is not free. Not yet. Because the bullet removes a large area of her cheek and half of her nose, Ayaan must always hide her face in shame.
Somalilanders celebrate their nation's independence every year on May 18th. Flag-waving citizens pour into the streets and crowds cheer both in the country and abroad. But Ayaan stays at home, ashamed to participate, like an unwelcome ghost from the nation's past.
Just like any other proud Somaliland citizen, she perhaps dances to the tunes of the celebrations that the generous wind blows towards her house. She peeks through drapes on her window to witness the parades and the jubilant citizens dancing on the streets of Somaliland.
On one hand, she feels ecstatic that finally her nation is free from the tyranny of the 80's. On the other hand, she perhaps whispers to herself, "I too was part of the struggle and severely wounded when I was a toddler ...yet I am the one who is not yet free, living with the scars of the war ...living in shame as if I have disgraced myself ...and hiding my face to avoid people staring at me like I am a monster. Oh my country people, have you forgotten about me? I too want to celebrate with you."
"Help me to heal the wounds of the war and set me free like you so I could live with dignity and not struggle simply to eat and drink is all I ask. Luckily, so many of you are out there and the fact is: one dollar donation from each person is all I need," she may add.
Just One Dollar
An estimated one million Somalis are scattered all over Europe, Asia, and North America. About half a million of these expatriates hail from Somaliland. Now, the fact is: if only each of us donates one dollar - Ayaan could be free from the trauma and the scars of the war.
Dear reader because of Ayaan's plight we are appealing to you: could you spare a buck? Of course, the more you donate the better; but beyond a shadow of a doubt if each of us donates a buck, more than Ayaan's medical expenses will be collected, enough money to help even other victims. She will have the facial reconstruction surgery that she so urgently needs.
Of course, it is not only Somalilanders and Somalis who could assist Ayaan. The fact is friends of Ayaan from different nationalities have already donated over 900 Pounds as I write this paper. Anyone could chip in to help cover the expense of Ayaan's facial surgery and help to alleviate her suffering.
Ayaan's facial surgery fundraising is spearheaded by honorable Edna Adan Ismail - the former Somaliland Foreign Minister. In the following video clip, Ms. Edna appeals to all of us to help Ayaan. Here is the clip: www.helpayaan.org (Ms. Edna is also the founder of the only maternity hospital in Somaliland: Edna Hospital. www.ednahospital.org )
How could you help?
Surely, you could help Ayaan by contributing some donations but more important taking the lead - that is, spearheading the fundraising campaign in your family, neighbors, among your colleagues and friends, and local business communities will for sure expedite the fundraising process. You should also distribute printed copies of this article with Ayaan's picture or e-mail them to anybody you know as to show him/her what Ayaan goes through daily. If you and I could forward jokes to our friends and acquaintances, so could we send this article to the folks in our e-mail list.
What is more wonderful than viewing the pictures of Ayaan's face fully reconstructed? Equally, wonderful is the fact that you raised some of the money. You stood by Ayaan; you held her hand when she needed you the most; and you didn't turn your back on her suffering. Every time you devoured your favorite dish, you remembered that Ayaan doesn't have the privilege to enjoy her meal because of her injury and you could have done something about it.
To receive a tax deduction receipt for your donation, visit: http://www.justgiving.com/helpayaan/
You could simply use your credit card to donate.
You could also send donations through registered Somali money transfer agencies such as, Dahabashiil and Qaran Express. Two accounts are set up on behalf of Ayaan's facial surgery fundraisings: Dhabashiil account is: HRGD14292; and Qaran Express is: 1380.
Finally, the incredible determination that it took us to rebuild our country could be applied to reconstruct Ayaan's face. We cannot permit the brutal war of the 80's holding Ayaan hostage while we stroll freely in the streets of our country. Let freedom ring for Ayaan; let her be free, once and for all.
Dear reader, please don't just skim through this article and walk away from Ayaan's plight; be brave and do something, not tomorrow, not the day after, but now. She cannot wait for another twenty years for surgery. Remember: none of us are immune to the tragedy that hit Ayaan. What happened to her could happen to any of us - at any minute, anywhere in the world.
Author's contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions regarding Ayaan's case:
More detailed information about Donations
The simplest way for most people worldwide to make a donation is simply to visit Ayaan's page at JustGiving.com in the United Kingdom, and use their credit or debit card. This donation is tax-deductible, at least for British citizens.
Edna Adan has set up a small community to manage the accounts of Ayaan and to cover administrative costs. It is greatly appreciated that both Dahabshiil and Qaran have waved some of their registration fees and formalities.
These are the members of the committee who supervise Ayaan's accounts
- Ms Amina Haji Abdillahi Ahmed : Vice President Hargeisa University
- Mr. Mohamed Osman Ahmed : Deputy Director Edna Hospital
- Mr. Ali Abdillahi Wacays : Board Member Nation Link Telecommunication Co.
Remember, no donation is too small. A gift in any amount will be greatly appreciated. If using the money transfer services, please direct your donations according to the Account numbers shown above.