Healing Across Continents: Osman Ramadhani ‘17 Tells His Story
“I’m ready to chase my dreams no matter what it takes,” says Osman Ramadhani ’17. A biology major, Ramadhani has lived a life full of unbelievable experiences before his career at Le Moyne, impassioning him with a fierce desire to pursue a career in nursing upon graduation.
Born in Mbolini, Somalia, Ramadhani has spent the majority of his life in various United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee camps throughout Kenya, including the Dadaab and Kakuma. The Somalian Civil War of 1991 broke out when he was just 7 years old. Left vulnerable and without any government protection, Ramadhani witnessed innumerable counts of robbery, rape and murder in his community at a very young age. To escape this violence, his family fled Southern Somalia in search of protection.
Wearing nothing on their bare feet, Ramadhani and his family began their 40-mile trek to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. His family and community endured immense amounts of suffering on their painful journey. “I saw many people who couldn’t walk. Some people were starving, and some were carrying multiple kids on their shoulders and backs,” says Ramadhani. “I saw people ask for food and water, but there was no one to offer them anything. Many of them died on the streets.” Looking back, he laments not being able to help. “During that time there was nothing I could do, because I was part of the suffering too.”
Faced with an inevitable lack of resources, Ramadhani’s life in the refugee camps was equally as difficult as his journey to get there. “Although there was protection in the refugee camps, people suffered violent attacks repeatedly. Refugee women were particularly vulnerable to rape and beatings while collecting firewood in the forest to prepare food for their families,” he says. “Long trips were necessary just to get water.”
However, in 2004, after many years of waiting, Ramadhani gained the opportunity to immigrate to the United States through the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and began his new life determined to change the lives of others.
Ramadhani immediately seized this opportunity to begin pursuing a career in the medical field— a desire which, he says, stems from the crude medical practices he experienced as a child. “I once felt ill and immediately my family believed that I had been cursed or targeted by an evil spell. My family took me to a traditional healer and requested that the curse be removed instead of seeking medical assistance,” says Ramadhani. “The traditional healer performed rituals to chase out evil spirits in me, but I still had the pain in my chest and my back. Then he asked permission from my parents if he could do the ‘burning method.’ After my parents gave the consent, the traditional healer targeted the location of the pain and applied a stick with fire on the area.”
Ramadhani, however, does not resent his cultural practices; he just wants everyone to have the chance to be healthy and strong. “The government did not provide assistance or at least teach my people a better way to approach medicine,” Ramadhani says. “I give credit to my people for coming up with a method to try and keep loved ones healthy.”
“I am thankful I received the chance to study at Le Moyne,” Ramadhani says. He has recently applied to St. Joseph’s College of Nursing to pursue a career in service for others. “Choosing the path of the nursing profession was not as easy for me as it is for others, but the quality that I love most about nursing is that it is a lifelong learning process.”
Article by Kaelin E. Foody '18.
Foody is interning with the Offices of Communications and Advancement this semester.