From the roof of the hospital, I watch the frenetic rush that marks the end of the day here. Women painted in brilliant color carrying sacks of vegetables and meat open the gates to their simple homes, ready to nourish their children. Men get up from café tables, lock shop doors, and honk their horns in impatience with traffic. The clouds become backlit by an orange sun as the wind rushes toward me, carrying the call from the six surrounding mosques. The people below pick up the pace, the men to prayer, the women to home, a never ending bending and bowing in loyalty to God and Family and Clan.
As the energy increases I am overwhelmed with the days falling off the calendar, closing my time here. And I wonder. What sort of devotion guides me to these moments? What kind of faith do I have in humanity to fling myself across the world to the Horn of Africa? What sort of prayer do I have for our future? What sort of pilgrim am I

Liz Connor and other volunteers.
As I walk down the stairs back to the maternity ward, I know. Certainly. It’s the children that I come for. In reverence for their future I work. It’s the Africa I want to nurture, the little rays of light with dark eyes and playful smiles who will one day reshape our world and the destiny of this continent. The children who will become men and women and hopefully decide that violence is unacceptable, that humans beings are equal, that life is sacred. And in investing in their mothers we indirectly give them a chance to do just that.
For the past month, I have been working as a volunteer nurse at Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland. I have learned a ton about healthcare in post-conflict, resource-poor countries. I have also had the immense honor of learning from Edna herself about the realities of this place and the people who call it home. She has taken me on excursions off the paved road and into the dry desperate desert, and narrated a Somaliland about which most of the world is ignorant.

I have seen Edna’s life’s work manifest in these doctors and nurses, and in those intimate moments of being with patients in vulnerable places. I have had the opportunity to take care of mothers and babies, sick and well. I’ve connected with people and made stabs at their language, I have looked into eyes filled with pain and fear. I have worked on keeping several babies alive that had little chance, and watched the soul depart from others. These are small acts, but this is life saving and life-affirming work. Both for the patients and myself.
This hospital cannot save every baby, or every mother, and things don’t always run smoothly, but the fact that it exists tells women that they are worth the effort. It shows everyone in Somaliland that people are valuable, male or female, big or small, rich or poor, nomadic or stationary. It tells the children they should honor their precious fragile lives and the lives of those around them, as they grow and are pushed into the harsh world. It tells me that there is hope for a new Africa, for a new generation.
And for all of this experience and learning, and for all of the sadness and joy, I am grateful beyond words.
I am floored in my awe of this woman who could be discerning enough to recognize a need in the rubble of war and poverty, and find the strength and vision to shout a wholehearted “Yes” for her people. Because I think that is the right answer to the questions.
And from a little hospital in Somaliland, where miracles are being born every day, a hopeful pilgrim agrees with all of her heart and bows in reverence for the potential of this place underneath a desert sky.

by Liz Connor


  1. EDDO, Edna Adan deserves, to be recognized for noble peace price for her ever ending work for Somali and other African women.

    May the International bodies make note of her work?

  2. Liz,

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Somaliland with us. You doing a great and noble work to improve the lives of human beings. We Somalilanders are grateful people and we value to work of those who come to help our most venerable people – Women and children.

    I hope Somaliland will be recognized as an independent country, will exploit oil and other plentiful unexploited resources and in turn, we will be able to extend a helping hand to those in need from all over the world.

    Keep the good work and convey my best wishes and gratitude to Adna and the Adna hospital stuff. Cheers!

  3. Wish we could encourage more Ednas. All I see are the baddies who added nothing getting rewarded by the UN and its cohorts.

  4. She [Edna] deserves the Noble prize, but her people has to fight for her where possible, specially those diaspora in Norway. They should contact the committee that handles this, and ask them to consider Madam Edna efforts in different fields to support the vulnerable. We Somalilanders wait until we get everything comes to us, instead of looking for the things that our country and people like Mrs Edna wants. We even [some of us] criticise her unfairly and label her that she is doing something of her own benefit. That is how some of us think and spread.

  5. Liz,
    Virtue is faith's first reflection, and looking ahead is where the future lies. Sharing your life with Somalianders, who are really in need, proves honestly that you are an instrument of light. Keep spreading light and thank you very much for your efforts to help the needy. We (Somalilanders) salute you from everywhere around the world.

  6. Edna Adan ali her rewrd is with the most high Allah subhana wa tala it dosent mater if san cadale reconise her shes on the same fate us the nation she is representing long live somaliland