18 October 2017

Somalia: Med Student Close to Fulfilling Dream Among Dead in Blast

Photo: Harun Maruf/Voice Of America
Hundreds of young Somali volunteers arriving at the scene of the explosion to help clean up the debris.

After six years in medical school, Maryan Abdullahi Gedi was on the verge of fulfilling a lifelong dream.

One of the top students in Benadir University's medical and surgery department, Gedi was about to graduate and become a doctor. In that role, she would meet a vital need in Somalia, where the number of physicians per capita is among the lowest in the world.

"She was a student working tirelessly, trying to reach her goals and was energetic," her mother, Hinda Yusuf, told VOA's Somali service. "She was respected. Very respected. In her university, she was very patient and kind and good at her school, and she was good with her classmates."

What Gedi's mother remembers most about her daughter is just how much she was loved by those who knew her. "By the neighbors, by other students and everybody that knew her. She was known to all as the loved one.'"

A life cut short

Gedi's life was cut short October 14 in a bomb blast in Mogadishu that killed more than 300 people and injured hundreds more. The explosion, which the Somali government blames on militant group al-Shabab, was the deadliest terror attack in Somalia's history.

Gedi, who was in her early 20s, worked a shift that Saturday at Benadir Hospital, where she served as a volunteer. Afterward, she went to the market to pick up a graduation dress she had bought, according to her classmate Hodan Abdullahi Ali.

Gedi was waiting for a bus when a truck packed with explosives detonated at the K5 intersection, killing pedestrians, destroying cars and demolishing buildings. The blast flattened the Safari Hotel, and other nearby landmarks were badly damaged.

Gedi's mother learned about her daughter's death when a stranger answered her phone. He relayed unthinkable information: "The dead body of your daughter is in front of the Gorgor Hotel."

Gedi's mother and siblings rushed to the scene, but other relatives had already taken her to a nearby hospital.

Family mourns

Benadir University has operated in the battle-scarred Somali capital since 2002, educating hundreds of doctors, teachers and scientists. The school has seen more than its share of tragedy. In 2009, al-Shabab bombed its graduation ceremony in the Shamo Hotel, killing 25 people, most of whom were students.

Gedi's father was traveling from London to attend her graduation. "He left from abroad to participate in her graduation ceremony, but rather he attended the funeral," Ali said. "During his transit, he was talking to her, and was very happy to attend the ceremony. But that happiness turned to sorrowfulness."

Ali said several of her classmates and other Benadir University graduates were among the victims of the blast. One classmate, who was with Gedi, called Ali while she was wounded and bleeding.

The entire school is in shock and mourning the passing of Gedi, said Ali.

"Maryan was very patient, respected and a kind student. She used to help the other students, especially during the exams," Ali said. "We are feeling a huge amount of devastation and are disheartened. We will never forget her."

Call for restraint

Despite the tragedy, Gedi's mother called for restraint and refused to give in to a desire for vengeance for those who committed the terror attack.

"Whoever lost their loved one like us, I wish patience for them, and may Allah stop such tragedies from happening again," her mother said.

"It's painful," she added, "but we are a Muslim society, and when we face miserable conditions like this, we have to be patient and make sure we keep things under control. That's the only thing we can do. We can't prevent such horrific actions."

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