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THURSDAY, 8 JANUARY 2015 5:03 PM

Alumna's foundation gives back to Kenya

 

Dr. Sophia Omoro (PC YR 15/1990, Kenya) is living the Pearson mission through her work, medicine, support groups, fashion design and philanthropy.

Last November, Sophia, now a Louisiana-based head and neck surgeon, held a fundraiser to address the hardships faced by people in Kenya. The event offered residents of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, the chance to support a number of projects, including providing clean drinking water to families, giving books and Christmas presents to orphanages, providing snacks and drinks for a children's AIDS clinic, enabling women?run Kenyan businesss and supporting thyroid cancer support groups.

This was the first gala from a new foundation Sophia created to help those in need, The Blooming Lily. Its mission is to empower women to lead, positively fulfill their destiny and give back.

"This comes after a very long journey to this point," Sophia told media. "My dream of a foundation has budded from childhood."

Sophia knew as early as 12 that her destiny was to create a foundation to address some of the needs in the society around her. In fact, she cannot remember a time in her life when this wasn't an active goal.

"Blooming Lily is named after my sister, Lily, who lost her life at age 46 to untreated colon cancer in the midst of domestic abuse and untreated depression," Sophia said. "Her passing helped me formulate the foundation's goals, as I believe that there is an aspect that Lily represents in all of us."

Sophia was born in Kenya to a family of eight. While the family was relatively poor, her father pushed education with no exception, as the only way upward, and he insisted that a "B" grade was never good enough. Sophia did well in high school and, at age 16, came to Pearson College UWC.

"Off I was, first time ever on a plane, let alone a multi-leg international trip. I remember every terrifying moment of this, as though it was yesterday. But I made it across the world and, after that, I was fearless," she said.

She went on to study her M.D. in the States, and started her residency in otolaryngology in Seattle, then finished at Tulane. She says she settled where she felt most at home, other than Kenya, but she has never forgotten her country or her people.

"With 75 per cent living way below poverty level, it was quite obvious to me that I was given a way out of this so I can lift someone else up a rang or two, without much effort," she says. "In a country where a single person supports households, it is not hard to make a difference and exponentially touch people you may never meet. But people are the same everywhere, whether here, or in Kenya. There is always a need, some of which you may not see very obviously. One just needs to look."

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