When Dr. Othman Shemisa returned to his native country of Libya after 27 years, he didn’t know what to expect. The country had been ruled by a violent dictator for decades and had just won its independence. “I was apprehensive and not sure of what I would find there. Would there be hope or despair?” he wondered. It turned out to be all hope and beyond. “I think the country has a very good chance of achieving its ambitions and the people have a good opportunity to reach the goals that they have set for themselves,” he says. “They wanted to be free and that’s what they did. We want to remain free, and that is reiterated everywhere.”
The Country’s Needs
One of the country’s goals is to translate its new-found freedom into a civil society that provides the best for its people. During the trip, Dr. Shemisa visited a medical school and met some of his former students who are now staff at the school, including one who is the dean. “We talked about health issues and about the needs,” he says. “What they need now is updated health facilities, as well as health personnel and refresher training courses for the doctors to be updated on new developments in the medical field. We started looking into continuing medical education courses for the doctors and looking for people who would be interested in site visits to Libya with the aim of upgrading the knowhow and education of physicians and personnel.” The country is also hoping to recruit physicians and other ancillary personnel for major hospitals.
And its Goals
Libya’s goal, Dr. Shemisa explains, is to become a flourishing country with educated people. “They have a vision and they would like to implement this vision and catch up with the rest of the world,” he says. “The people are grateful to the free world that stood by them in the struggle, and they are grateful to the US specifically for taking the lead in helping them regain their independence.”
Dr. Shemisa hopes to coordinate some medical assistance and continue to visit to ensure the needs are being attended to as time goes on. “It is an exciting future for Libya rebuilding from Ground Zero,” he says. “The civil society is at its starting line in the race toward development.”
Photo: Doctor Shemisa poses with a tanks used by the now-fallen Gaddafi regime.