Seven questions with Abdulkadir Elmi

Seven questions with Abdulkadir Elmi

This week, meet Abdul, a third-year medical student and Vice-President of the UCLU Somali Society. Abdul was recently featured in a BBC Newsbeat article about young British-Somalis fundraising for the Somali famine appeal. He organised a series of successful fundraising initiatives, including a sold-out fundraising event in the Cruciform that raised £40,000 in one night.

1. Why are you interested in medicine and what do you plan to do in the future?

This year, I’m doing an intercalated BSc in Paediatrics and Child Health. As part of the degree, I had to study global maternal and child health. It was during this module that I uncovered my underlying passion in international public health.

According to Save the Children research, Somalia is the worst place in the world to be a mother from a health perspective. Out of every 18 women who give birth, it has been reported that at least one would die during childbirth. We have made huge steps in reducing child mortality and improving maternal health since 1990. Despite this incredible progress, an estimated one in five children dies before their fifth birthday because of pneumonia, diarrhoea or measles. These are completely preventable. Therefore, we must mobilise resources to end all preventable child and maternal deaths.

We must continue as a country to develop comprehensive and cross-sectoral health policies that include maternal, newborn and child health. It is also of utmost importance to include policies aimed at improving access to clean water, improved sanitation and primary education. The Sustainable Development Goals, set by the UN (United Nations), made a commitment to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being.

My passion is to use my knowledge as a medical student (hopefully if I graduate) to help implement targets, not just in Somalia but also the wider international community.

2. What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

My exams, all 200 of them! I’m just kidding. My best evening at UCL is without a doubt the ‘Inspire’ event I helped organise. This event was a collaboration between UCLU Somali Society and Elays Corner, sponsored by Bright Education Centre, Human Appeal and Somali Youth for Integrity (SYFI). 

The main aim of the event was to inspire people to do something about the current drought and famine in Somalia, hence the name.

The fundraiser was the highlight of the night for me. I was joined on stage by Yahya, a good friend of mine. Before we began the fundraiser, he asked me what was my fundraising goal to which I ambitiously replied “£10,000”. 

For me raising £10,000 would have been the best-case scenario. I was completely shocked at the outcome of the fundraiser; we managed to raise £40,0000 in pledges in one night. This experience epitomised the potential we possess as a community. If we work together, and there is a will, we will find that way.

Seven questions with Abdul Elmi

3. Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

I discovered that there is more to UCL than just the cruciform this year. As medics, we tend to isolate ourselves in the cruciform, but due to the recent infestation of the cruciform by non-medics, I had to look elsewhere for study spaces.

4. Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

UCLU Somali Society events are crazy good, the lived up to the hype. The society brought the first hijab-wearing model, Halima Aden, down to an event. They also regularly host discussion events exploring important topics. I would keep an eye out for their upcoming events, especially ‘Inspire 2′!

You should go on a tour around Wembley stadium. It’s the home of the England national football team, and I work there as a first aider so you might bump into me.

Lastly, you should volunteer at the Bright Education Centre if you have time. It’s a centre, run by young professionals, that provides provisional day-care and tuition services with the principal aim of empowering young pupil to achieve their aspirations. With the recent increase in youth violence and killings, it is of utmost importance to support centres that are providing the youth with alternatives to the ‘road’ lifestyle.

5. If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?

I feel that exam season is such a difficult time for students, and I would try to make this period as stress-free as possible. One way this could be done is by increasing library facilities because currently, it is quite difficult to obtain a seat in the library!

6. Who inspires you and why?

Jerome Jarre has consistently inspired me for the past month. It all began when he challenged viewers to post on social with #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia. From this, they managed to lobby Turkish Airlines into providing a cargo plane for food delivery.

A team including Jerome, actor Ben Stiller, Chakabars Clarke and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick set up a ‘Love Army for Somalia’ GoFundMe page. This viral fundraising campaign managed to raise $1 million in less than 24 hours and has since raised over $2,500,000.

Jerome has been in Somalia for the past month, continuously helping on the ground. In just one day, Jerome and his team managed to distribute 30 tonnes of food and 60,000 litres of water. What makes this even more special is that the whole campaign is truly transparent. He constantly updates the viewers on his Twitter account (@jeromejarre).

One of his most important updates was when he realised that sending food via a cargo plane was not a smart way to help the country. They found out through research and directly talking to the Somali people, the best way to help was to support the local businesses. He has since empowered those facing adversity.

He has travelled all over the country to provide water and food to those heavily affected by the current drought. He has been embracing the Somali culture while providing snapshots of the everyday beauty of Somalia. In doing so, he has provided the positive view of Somalia the media fails to portray.

He has stated that ‘if news companies measured their success in impact/lives saved instead of views/money [then] they would all be talking about the famine’. The current famine has been reported to be the worse humanitarian crisis since World War II, yet there has only been minimal media coverage.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Jarre for all he has done and continues to do for the people suffering in Somalia. He is an inspirational figure to us all, and because of his work, many have felt inspired to do more.

7. What would it surprise people to know about you?

I’ve never actually been to Somalia! But I would like to go sometime soon.