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Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman: 90,000 Lives Changed

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  792 ratings  ·  120 reviews
The moving memoir of one brave woman who, along with her daughters, has kept 90,000 of her fellow citizens safe, healthy, and educated for over 20 years in Somalia.

Dr. Hawa Abdi, "the Mother Teresa of Somalia" and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is the founder of a massive camp for internally displaced people located a few miles from war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia. Since 1991, wh
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Grand Central Publishing
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Diane S ☔
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Prior to this book I knew only that Somalia was on the African continent and that they had pirates so it was advised to not sail anywhere near there as these pirates were killing people. If ever anyone has any doubt that one person can make a difference they should read this book. Her love for her country, the land and her people are so evident in every word written. I cannot begin to tell you the things this remarkable woman has gone through, suffered and yet still fought on, making inroads in ...more
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What can be said to do justice to this woman, her daughters and all the people of Somalia? Hope is being kept alive. Unfortunately on the cover of the book there is the tag "[Doctor Abdi is] equal parts Mother Teresa and Rambo." I can't speak to Mother Teresa but I do know to equate Rambo is a joke in poor taste and a severe disservice to Doctor Abdi. Rambo as the pretend character has nothing on this women, her daughters and the suffering of the people and the hope they have of Somalia. The str ...more
Missy J
I will be thinking about this book a lot in the next couple of weeks. It was very intense. I have to admit, that I was quite hesitant to read this book at first. I wasn't keen on a lovey-dovey book of inspiration/hope and personally, I'm quite suspicious of big humanitarian organizations. Thank goodness, "Keeping Hope Alive" wasn't like that at all!

Dr. Hawa Abdi was born before the Somalian independence from Italy/Britain. I was really surprised to learn how different Somalia was back then, comp
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The true story of an amazing woman who devoted her life to helping others through medicine. In Somalia, her home, women were meant to marry and stay in the house. Her father had a different mindset and with his blessing, she traveled to the Soviet Union and earned a degree in medicine. She also became a lawyer. As a female doctor, she was pushed toward pediatrics and women's health and women were drawn to her. Many showed up at her home asking for treatment. With her family, she opened her own h ...more
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I was excited to receive my first-reads copy a few weeks ago. I knew nothing about Somalia - I couldn't even point it out to you on a map (somewhere near Ghana?), so I couldn't wait to learn what this book had to offer.

The first thing you see is a quote by Glamour "[Dr. Abdi is] equal parts Mother Teresa and Rambo." I'll be completely honest - I couldn't help but give a small snort as I read the quote. The image it invoked was pretty absurd.

But somehow, I was able to get past the quote and dig
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I happened to see her book advertised on her foundation's website, which I researched after reading A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindout.

This story comes to me as a women who did what she could with what she had. I am often discouraged by people that do such amazing acts as she does (how would I ever be able to accomplish anything relatively close), but her honesty of how things came to be diminishes that. Obviously though, she has great courage, endurance, education, and motivation.

She seems ve
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
A friend summed it up perfectly in her review of this book: "If you've ever questioned the ability of one person to make a difference, read this book!"

Not only is Dr. Hawa doing amazing things, but she's doing them while facing challenges that would break anyone else down. She is bigger than a cause, government, or organization. She IS a difference maker.

The history of Somalia is incredible on its own. You add in this citizen who loves her people so much that she has devoted her life to serve th
Lisa Filipczak
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great book and an even better story of an amazing woman, Hawa Abdi. She is an Ob/Gyn specialist born in Somalia. She went to medical school in the Soviet Union and then law school. She returns to Somalia to build and run a clinic to care for thousands of people in her war torn country. The clinic evolves into a working farm and a refugee camp which houses, treats and feeds up to 90,000 people at one time. Dr. Abdi has an incredible will and such great strength of character. She endured so many ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story of one woman/doctor/lawyer converting her farm outside of Mogadishu into a refugee camp. She did so during the most pivotal, deadly, and heartbreaking decades of Somalia's history. During those 20 years she raised 3 of her own children( while caring for thousands of others), governed the refugee camp (including over 90,000 people in that time period), treated thousands, and became an international symbol of hope to millions of displace Somalians around the world. It was ...more
Youssouf Kamil
Well as a somali,being born in the mid 1990 and raised in neighboring country, all i thought was Somalia as chaos and backwardness but reading Hawa Abdi's Memoir taught me How great,beatiful and civilised Somalia was once... I had to admit i felt overwhelmed emotional reading this book, tires fell from my eyes like drop of rain fell. There is nothing i can express her Courage and Heroes. Hawa Abdi would always be our Hero and the legacy she left for us will always be there for the Generations to ...more
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Dr. Hawa Abdi is such a strong, determined, independent, and inspirational woman and this book does a great job of showing how she advocated for peace, reason, and love.
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Born into a poor farmer family of Somalia, having witnessed her mother's death while giving birth to a baby, Hawa had decided on her mother's corpse to persue Medicine & know the cause of her mother's death.
She studied medicine at Soviet Union & became Somalian first lady gynecologist.
Hawa in this book recounts politically turmoiled , war proned & hunger struck vulnerable history of Somalia along with her personal life.
Inclined towards the sweet smell & fresh breeze of rural mud & landscape
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Hawa in person and getting her to sign my book before I had even read the book. Now I've finally had the chance to read it and have even more respect and love for her and her daughters. As a future physician, there are many aspects about her professional life and philosophies around medicine that id like to emulate. I learned a lot about Somali culture and about the history of Somalia which really helped gain better understanding of the political situation there. ...more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Dr. Hawa Abdi is a remarkable hero - just not much of a writer.
Roseanna Clement
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2014
God Bless You Dr. Hawa Abdi
Jared Pangier
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
***4.65 out of 5***

Why did I?

There are too many people on this earth who live (if just barely) without hope. Just reading the title caught my eye, while the actual story gripped me like a beating heart stuck in a vice.

Why should you?

Because... by the time you get done reading this book, you will be as speechless as me. In tears, even. What else can I say?

It's unthinkable, what happened in Somalia--what's still happening there--what evil exists in their world, this world. Yet, if we truly want to
Wilhelmina Hoftyzer
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read, although I felt at times the writing was a on the amateur side, while at other times, there are so many names of officials that it was difficult to follow, especially if (like many people), I have not followed the trials and tribulations of the people of Somalia closely. But overall a powerful book, written by Dr. Hawa Abdi, sometimes called the "Mother Theresa" of Somalia. She grew up in pre civil war Somalia, which appeared to be a country of great beauty, pride, ...more
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it

Hawa Abdi is one of the most amazing people in the world. She has the Mandela gene in buckets. In 1991 when things fell apart in Somali Abdi was there, a newly qualified doctor trying to make a small difference. How she chose to respond to the catastrophe in her country positively affected hundreds of thousands of Somalis.
A refugee camp sprung up around a small hospital Abdi had created outside Mogadishu and at its height there were hundreds of thousands of people living on her land, looked afte
Kathleen Hagen
Keeping Hope Alive: One woman, 90,000 Lives Changed, by Hawa Abdi, with Sarah J. Robbins, Narrated by Robin Miles, Produced by Hachette Audio, Downloaded from audible.com.

In Somalia, Dr. Hawa Abdi, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is the founder of a massive camp for internally displaced people located a few miles from war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia. Since 1991, when the Somali government collapsed, famine struck, and aid groups fled, she has dedicated
herself to providing help for people whose lives have
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
A student worker where I work is from Somalia and was reading Keeping Hope Alive. Of course Somalia has been in the news for so many difficult reasons...drought, war, famine, to name a few. I have been unaware of Dr. Hawa Abdi's many contributions to her country throughout these many unpleasant events. She lost her mother at age twelve, was married and lost a child in the next two years.

She is a physician trained in the Soviet Union. When she returned to her homeland she and her husband, Aden,
Daina Jurika-Owen
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was an amazing story of an exceptional woman in Somalia. One of the few women doctors in Somalia educated in former Soviet Union, Hawa Abdi tells about her professional and personal life, not forgetting the bigger picture: what is going on in her country and how it fits in the global context. First and foremost, she is a doctor taking care of patients of all ages and tribal affiliations. Her rule to be admitted to her settlement and clinic is "you have to live in peace there, no clan or triba ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The journalist co-author's voice is non-existent and allows Dr. Hawa's voice and story to shine through in a very readable way. Abdi's story is told in an honest, transparent way that doesn't try to hide her mistakes through the course of her life. I appreciated that though a broad 70 years of Somali history is told through Hawa Abdi's life, events are related in a way that is focused. There are a couple of times that something is related out of chronological order, such as the heartbreaking tim ...more
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio
A very good autobiography of a woman who really had a remarkable life and did something remarkable with it. Married at 12, divorced by 14, she becomes a doctor and then a lawyer. She uses her means to save many many people when her country goes into a complicated civil war and eventually helps rewrite the countries constitution.

The write is simple, straight forward and has the effect of seeming like a person speaking a foreign language to me. She has another writer on this book so i am not sure
Wayne Jordaan
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy read about a fascinating and heroic woman. I must admit that I have never heard of her before, or might not have taken notice when the name flashed across my horizons. Running a hospital and refugee camp in Somalia in the face of life-threatening conditions, first against warring clans and later against radical Muslim militants, demands heaps of courage. In my opinion, without doubt another African Woman of Substance, and sadly, while having been the recipient of many International Award ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I knew very little about Somalia before reading this book and this book gives the perspective of the country from a women who remains neutral in conflict. This books tells the story of a strong women who continues to work as a doctor, take in tens of thousands of people, while watching her country be taken over by hate.
The strength of Dr. Hawa is inspirational and it is through people like her Somali can be rebuilt.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Another true story of a woman doctor in Rwanda during the genocide. Her courage to stand up to the clan and tribal terrorists, to open her doors to the homeless, to treat the enemy. Another unsung hero of this century. Her work ought to be more widely lauded. It made me think that there are probably more like her, trying to survive the stupidity of civil wars while reaching out to others, regardless of her own risk.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
This is a powerful autobiography/memoir about a Somali woman who wouldn't let the circumstances bring her down. She always saw the best in people and society no matter what happened. This is a great challenge to all of us and a great reminder of the journey our Somali neighbors have traveled to us. ...more
A Nelson
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
[Somalia from the 50s until present day]

Fascinating story of humanitarian doctor Hawa Abdi and her love for her homeland, Somalia. Her story paints a wide stroke through Somalia's colonial, post-colonial, and civil war history. The description of Muslim life also added an interesting contrast to that experienced by the author of Infidel.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dr Hawa Abdi offers a fascinating insight into the civil war of Somalia and her own heroic story of setting up her hospital and clinic in the midst of constant depravation and fighting amongst different parts of Somalia. A definite worthy read for anybody interested in medicine, humanitarian issues and Somalia in general.
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Everyone should read this book - for the content, not for the style. Someone once told me she found the writing in this book to be too "staccato" and it does have some pacing and balancing issues, but these seem like minor complaints in the face of this woman and her story. ...more
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