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Global Health alumna Yomna Omar: Empowering displaced individuals with sexual health information

MSc Global Health alumna Yomna Omar

MSc Global Health alumna Yomna Omar.

January 15, 2019

Yomna Omar will never forget the moment she realized that the refugees she was working with during her field practicum felt comfortable confiding in her. “The experience was truly life-changing,” says the 2018 MSc Global Health graduate. “These individuals came to perceive me as someone they could trust with their life stories, their health and their hopes for the future.”

Her placement was in Athens, Greece, as a logistics coordinator for the Unmentionables, a non-profit that provides sexual and reproductive health education, protection and access to resources to forcibly displaced people around the world. “I saw how global health work truly looks in the field,” says Omar, who was born in Cairo, Egypt, and studied psychology and business administration as an undergraduate.

Working as an interpreter and trainer, she not only delivered educational sessions but grew friendships. “Seeing everything they went through firsthand – and knowing how the organization can help and wanting to do that with every cell of my being – really put things into perspective.”

Omar then took on the role of programs intern with the Unmentionables, working alongside 2016 MSc Global Health graduate Meghan Brockington, the Global Programs Director. She collaborated with Brockington on the strategic plan. “I honestly didn’t realize how much I gained from the MSc until I started this role,” she says. “All those international groups we were put in during our Global Health Foundations classes and the symposium in India prepared me for working in a field that, 90 per cent of the time, relies on individuals collaborating without being in the same country.” In addition to relying on her proficiency with virtual communication, Omar used the practical skills she gained, such as budget planning.

While her current work focuses on the prevention of sexual and gender based violence, Omar also has a passion for promoting mental health. Her ultimate ambition is to work with a major international organization such as the WHO, UNICEF or UN Women. “I hope to one day develop programs and interventions that truly shatter the stigma surrounding mental health and sexual and reproductive health issues, especially among vulnerable populations.”