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A Woman of Firsts by Edna Adan Ismail


A couple of years ago, I listened to an episode of Desert Island Discs that really got to me. When it finished, I just thought I want to know more about this woman, I hope she writes a book one day which she has. Her name is Edna Adan Ismail and her story is unforgettable.

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Edna is one of the world’s foremost pioneers in nursing, health, education and women’s rights. Her father was one of Somaliland’s best loved doctors. Despite lacking a formal education, Edna taught herself to read at the age of seven and went on to become the first girl in her country to win an educational scholarship in Britain and the first midwife to practice in Somaliland.

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When she just eight years old, the women in her family took Edna and performed a female circumcision on her. FGM is something we often hear about, however reading Edna’s account of what actually happened to her made me put the book down and weep for the women who have been subjected to this barbaric, traumatic and cruel act. How anyone could allow this to happen to child is beyond me. My heart honestly went out to Edna and the millions of women who have suffered this.

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Edna is a woman of great strength and resilience. She went on to become the first female Foreign Minister of her country and found the courage to speak out about FGM.

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When she was a little girl she dreamed of one day building her own hospital, a dream she never got to share with her beloved father. She never gave up. Overcoming many obstacles, she built her hospital brick by brick and finally admitted her first patient when she was 65 years old.

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Edna’s story is amazing, she is such an inspiration. A formidable character and yet she has so much compassion, she has been described as the Muslim Mother Teresa. 📖

While searching for this book on Instagram I found that it doesn’t appear very often, which is a shame because hers is a story that should be shared. So if you're still looking for #nonfictionnovemberrecommendations, please do consider this one, at times it is a difficult read but it’s one that I highly recommend.

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What’s been your favourite non-fiction so far this month?

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