Our Story

Over the last few decades, we have developed a camp for internally displaced people into a vibrant community. Dr. Hawa Abdi and Dr. Deqo Mohamed tell our story in the TED Talk below.


History of Hope Village

Photo: Seamus Murphy/VII New Corbis.

Photo: Seamus Murphy/VII New Corbis.

'equal parts mother teresa and rambo' 

Dr. Hawa Abdi, the founder of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, has been called 'equal parts Mother Teresa and Rambo' by Glamour Magazine. Dr. Hawa showed her tenacity at a young age: she became the first female gynecologist in Somalia, and also obtained a law degree and lectured at Somali National University. Before the start of the civil war in Somalia, Dr. Hawa saw a need for a rural health clinic for women. She opened one on her family's ancestral lands along the Afgooye corridor, on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Dr. Hawa gradually transformed the clinic into a 400-bed hospital. When the war started, families fled to take shelter on Dr. Hawa's land. To preserve camp security and peace during the civil war, Dr. Hawa laid down laws which remain in effect today in Hope Village: she outlawed domestic violence and prohibited the residents from identifying by their clan. 

Dr. Hawa Abdi embodies the resilience, compassion, and grace of the human spirit...she reminds us that we are deeply interconnected and compels us to act. If we seek to create lasting peace, to preserve freedom and protect dignity, we need to stand with leaders like Dr. Abdi.
— Alyse Nelson, President and CEO Vital Voices Global Partnership

hope village is born

Soon, 90,000 people, mostly women and children, had come to Dr. Hawa's land, and most stayed. Dr. Hawa and her daughters, Deqo and Amina, worked around the clock to provide care to displaced and injured Somalis. In the height of the bombing, the hospital saw 500 patients per day. Dr. Hawa and her family did not stop there: they created a camp for the displaced Somalis and built a primary school, high school, community agricultural project, and women’s education center. They renamed the community the Dr. Hawa Abdi Hope Village. In 2008, Dr. Hawa retired from running Hope Village and her daughter, Dr. Deqo Mohamed, took over as CEO of the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation.

Dr. Hawa in the camp (2007). Photo: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images.

Dr. Hawa in the camp (2007). Photo: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images.

In 2012, there were 90,000 residents living in Hope Village - about one percent of Somalia's overall population - mainly consisting of women, children and the elderly.

life in hope village today

Hope Village is now home to about 10,000 people. At the center of the Village is the Dr. Hawa Abdi General Hospital, which has 400 beds and provides vaccinations, along with maternal and pediatric care, to everyone who comes to our doors. The Village's well boasts the only source of free fresh water in the region, and the smart farming agriculture program we are developing aims to give Somalia a defense against famine and climate change. The Waqaf-Dhiblawe Primary School and the Hawa Abdi High School seek to lay the foundation for a new future by educating a new generation of Somali leaders. 

Two children walk from the well in Hope Village. Photo: Sabal Abdulle.

Two children walk from the well in Hope Village. Photo: Sabal Abdulle.


  • We have provided free food, healthcare, education, skills training, and hope to more than 100,000 people.

  • We have developed an innovative, autonomous governance and justice system for Hope Village, in which a council of respected community members mediate disputes and investigate crimes.

  • We participated in a national crisis response effort to Somalia's latest drought, and we continue to work with our partners to prevent future crises.

  • We have forged strong relationships with universities, non-profit organizations, individual donors, and members of the Somali diaspora around the world.

Read our 2018 Program Highlights to learn more about what we have accomplished!

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Read the Full Story

Keeping Hope Alive, Dr. Hawa Abdi's 2013 memoir, tells the full, incredible story of her life and her record of humanitarian work. The book details the tragedies she experienced that motivated her to become a doctor. It describes the barriers she faced as a woman pursuing careers in medicine and law. It tells the story of when she was kidnapped by radical insurgents in 2010, and much, much more.

Get your copy today.