Young Somali man trained as doctor in China vows to rebuild homeland



Abukar Mukstar Mohammed grew up in the Somalia capital Mogadishu when civil unrest in the Horn of Africa state was at its peak and annihilated the dreams of children and youth.

Having witnessed the devastation caused by civil strife in his homeland, Mohammed swore to pursue further education and hopefully assist Somalian children and young people reclaim their lost path. The 27-year-old student of medicine at Sovereign Medical University in Guangzhou benefited from a Chinese government scholarship to pursue his dream career.

During a telephone interview with Xinhua, Mohammed said the traumatic experiences of growing up in his war-ravaged homeland have not sapped the energy and passion to become an accomplished doctor. “As a child, I always dreamed of becoming a doctor and my impressive score in chemistry and biology in high school made it possible for me to enroll for this discipline,” he said.

Mohammed studied at public schools in Mogadishu but had set his eyes on a bigger prize despite the immense hurdles that stood in his way. His superb high school record secured him a Chinese government scholarship in 2008 to pursue undergraduate studies in medicine at one of the country’s leading universities. “I went to China in September 2008 and studied Mandarin for one year at Sun Yat Sen University. Later in September 2009, I enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in medicine at Sovereign Medical University in Guangzhou,” he told Xinhua.

His rapid mastery of the Chinese language made it easy for him to gel with students and faculty members at the university. Mohammed completed his bachelors’ degree in medicine in July 2014 and secured another government scholarship to pursue a three-year postgraduate degree in medicine. The seven years of study in China has not only been transformative but has also opened new horizons to a young man who was exposed to the brutal side of life at an early age.

Compared to his peers back home, Mohammed has accomplished a monumental feat and is well placed to participate in Somalia’s rebuilding. His boundless resilience, versatility and sharp wit made it easier for him to cope with a new cultural environment. He told Xinhua that despite cultural differences, he found Chinese society to be helpful and accommodating, hence the desire to prolong his stay.

“My experience in China has been enriching and I was privileged to spend a year studying Mandarin. Despite earlier hiccups, [I] am now able to speak fluent Chinese. In fact, Chinese is my second language after my mother tongue,” he said.

The lengthy stay in China also exposed Mohammed to a rich culture and technological progress. Initially anxious about Chinese cuisine, he later came to adore the country’s food thanks to prodding from peers at the university. “I had minor issues with Chinese food since it was new to me. I was just eating fish and rice when I joined the university. Later, I came to love Chinese cuisine and I believe it is one of the best in the world,” Mohammed said.

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medicine, Mohammed said he was privileged to have mentors who boosted his understanding of the discipline. Likewise, the learning environment at the university was vibrant while teamwork contributed immensely to his impressive performance at the undergraduate level.

After completing the postgrad degree in medicine in June 2017, Mohammed hopes to return to his homeland to contribute to its reconstruction. “Back home the healthcare system is in dire situation after two decades of civil war. I will utilize my skills gained in China to rebuild healthcare infrastructure,” he said.

Mohammed added that he intend to promote China-Somalia friendship after completing his studies.

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