Struck by the lack of ambulances on the busy streets of Somalia’s capital, Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan founded a free public ambulance service in Mogadishu 15 years ago that survives on one dollar donations.
Launched with a single 1999 model ambulance, Adan now has a 20-vehicle fleet.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, he said he became aware of the shortage of ambulances in the country after returning to his homeland from Pakistan, where he had been studying dentistry.
He became known as “Doctor Aamin” among the public due to the name of his ambulance service.
“I studied in Pakistan. By profession, I am a dentist. I went back to Somalia in 2006, where there was a civil war. There was heavy bleeding of my people. Then I asked myself, how could I help my people?” he said.
Noting that there were only paid ambulances from two hospitals in Mogadishu, where there are nearly three million people living, Adan said the wounded were being carried to hospitals with wheelbarrows.
“When I finished my studies and came to Somalia, I was trying to open my own clinic. I opened my clinic in the biggest market in Mogadishu, where there was heavy fighting. There were people bleeding and dying in front of my clinic. I was the only professional person who knew why the person was dying, and it was because of catastrophe or bleeding,” he said.
Saying it was the turning point for him to come up with the free ambulance service, Adan said it was very difficult initially.
As a fresh graduate, Adan spent all of his savings to buy the first ambulance, which cost him $4,200.
“Then I began to campaign to show biz people, businesspeople, university students to pay or to give us one dollar per month to save one person,” he said, adding the campaign has enabled him to purchase 20 ambulances.
“We bought used, second-hand [ambulances] from Dubai which were not expensive. By second-hand I mean models from 1999-2000, which are very old,” he added.
Noting that not only those in need of first aid call the Aamin ambulance services, Adan said local journalists also contact him to get the latest information about terrorist attacks and sometimes even reach the scene by ambulance.
He further noted that he and his staff are well-trained to go to the scenes of incidents as they have obtained first aid training from local hospitals, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Red Cross in Somalia.
“I’d like to extend our thanks to the WHO, who had given us two ambulances in 2009…I would also like to give my thanks to the Turkish government and the Turkish people because they have built a very big hospital, which is the biggest in Somalia. It is well-equipped. This hospital also helps us reach patients,” he noted.
Continuing on by saying that the Aamin ambulance services’ goal is to reach out to all over Somalia, Adan said 20 ambulances and a staff of 60 is not enough for Mogadishu alone.
He said they are continuing to campaign to collect donations for the ambulances, adding he arrived in Turkey to meet with and ask support from Somalis living in Ankara and Istanbul.
“I will campaign to them again and again…It will be great if I could reach the Ministry of Health, Kizilay [Turkish Red Crescent], or TIKA [Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency],” he said.
Adan hopes the Turkish government and aid agencies hear his plea for the free ambulance services.
*Writing by Merve Aydogan