About two months ago, Dr. Othman Shemisa, president of the Ohio Medical Group Division, traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Prime Minister of Libya. Dr. Shemisa, originally from Libya, was active in arranging (with the financial help of MedWish) three large shipments of medical supplies being sent to Libyan freedom fighters last June, July and August during the North African country’s civil war. Included in the shipment was X-ray equipment, resuscitation equipment, hospital beds and various medications.
The Importance of Freedom
The D.C. event was held in the city’s suburbs where Prime Minister Abdel-Rahim El Keib addressed several Libyan Americans. Mr. El Keib was born in Tripoli and then received his Master’s degree and PhD in America, where he taught as a professor for more than 20 years.
“He is aware of the importance of being free and building Libya along what we have known and come to expect in America,” Dr. Shemisa says. “He promised that his priorities were to take care of the casualties of the [civil] war and the students studying in the U.S., as well as rebuilding Libya.”
Dr. Shemisa says he is proud to be a citizen of both the United States and Libya. He feels that he is lucky to be instrumental in facilitating the process, either by helping or defining, the ways that the U.S. and Libya improve their relations.
“We have talked a lot about what the casualties of war need medically and how to bring people here,” Dr. Shemisa says.
So far, he has helped to form a committee that will review the records of the casualties and the people who need help and give recommendations of centers that will care for them, either in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world.
He says, “We also want to be available for any suggestions for any problems they have there through consultations or carrying out any sort of help.”
Libya is holding free elections for the first time in 50 years. “The Libyan Americans want to be part of the election process,” Dr. Shemisa says. “Currently we are petitioning the election board in Libya to make provisions for absentee balloting and to also choose candidates who would represent the Libyan Americans in the newly elected Libyan National Council.”
Freedom Has Its Price
After the prime minister spoke, a 15-year-old boy who lost a leg after finding one of Muammar Gaddafi’s cluster bombs addressed the attendees.
“He said, ‘Maybe I am not as wise as everyone here,” Dr. Shemisa recalls. “’God gave me two legs; He took one but I have another. And I got an artificial one now. You should not worry about me. Worry about wives who lost their husbands, children who lost their moms and people who lost their homes.’ This really puts things into perspective,” Dr. Shemisa says tearing up. “Freedom has its price, but it allows us to go on.”