KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - It is natural for a person to excel his peers, something which is called an accomplishment, but it is a miracle if a young person excels his seniors in age and knowledge.
The Sudanese woman has always been characterized by miraculous accomplishments and this was what has exactly been achieved by Yusra Ahmed Al-Toam Salim, a Sudanese student in the Faculty of Medicine in Cambridge University.
She managed to get the top rank and win an international scientific reward accorded by the British Royal College for the best research Yusra presented at a global scientific conference of gynecologists and obstetricians organized in Singapore last March. She outshone more than a thousand highly experienced specialists and professors from all over the world in all stages of the contest. Out of the entire number of the participants 500 contesters were chosen and this figure was shortlisted to 54 contesters, also led by Yusra, and the final result that astounded the international scientific committee was that the first paper was one presented by a Sudanese finalist student. Yusra has managed to attain this splendid achievement that was met with appreciation and admiration by the participants as well as the audience among whom were Sudanese physicians who rushed to congratulate her.
The British Royal College contacted Yusra upon her return to London to see and ask her to work with them, although she was still a student (Yusra graduated on last June 24) and she was appointed in a big hospital in London.
Yusra was honored back home at Soba University Hospital and at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Khartoum which had the credit for this accomplishment for the training course she underwent under the supervision of Dr. Beshir al-Jaily, the gynecology and obstetrics professor and the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, of the University of Khartoum and Dr. Duriyah, the Director of Soba University Hospital.
This miraculous accomplishment was not accidental but must have had indications and motives besides care and attention.
Dr. Ahmed, the psychologist and father of Yusra, spoke to SUDANOW about the remarkable success of his genius daughter, saying:
Yusra was born in late 1993 at Soba University Hospital and it was a good coincidence to have been born in the hospital that contributed and witnessed her superiority when her mother was serving as a doctor in that hospital.
They left for Britain for post-graduate studies and lived there until now and Yusra and her brothers Abu Bakr and Sadek who were born there began learning since the kindergarten in London.
The family was met with tremendous challenges for a proper up-bringing of the children in a community that was different than in Sudan as regards the culture and religion, something that demanded a special effort and time for the children to gain a measure of awareness for accommodation, participation, interaction and harmony with the local people.
Ever since her admission to the kindergarten, Yusra showed remarkable ingenuity and superiority and made great deeds and excelled in painting, design and knitting, drawing the attention of her teachers who took care of her and persuaded the family to care for her.
Yusra continuously used to win uncontested a weekly prize for the best task by the children in the kindergarten and on leaving that kindergarten, a report on her outstanding level was sent in advance to the primary school.
In light of this report, the teachers paid a special care to Yusra who continued her outstanding performance, Dr. Ahmed went on, adding: As a psychologist, I benefitted a great deal from this experience in up-bringing Yusra and her brothers, allowing them, particularly Yusra, full freedom of expression of everything whatever the circumstances were, even if she made mistakes for which she could apologize, which is better than suppressing her opinion. She was assisted in this by the community which is characterized by such agreeable properties as sincerity and honesty, something which accorded her self-confidence.
Yusra was inquisitive, so-to-speak, particularly about religion and traditions and she criticized many Sudanese traditions and customs she noticed during the annual leaves the family used to spend in Sudan. Yusra believes that the Sudanese society can get rid of those habits provided that they get adequate awareness and guidance, particularly with regard to the rights of the women and children. She was an ardent advocate of women. This advocacy prompted Yusra to do a research on the female circumcision issue that was reflected in the paper with which she contested in the British Royal College conference.
Yusra also used to criticize the Sudanese man who, according to her, sat down at leisure, like a king, while the woman served him, and when she asked the Muslim clerics about this, the answer was in the negative and her response was that this behavior has to be abandoned. She used to conduct such a conversation while she was still in the preliminary school.
At Grade Five, Yusra began to fast during the month of Ramadan and her English school mates used to imitate her in fasting as they considered her as their example. In response to an enquiry by the school administration the family answered that the Ramadan fasting was mandatory upon her but that she wanted to be accustomed to it.
Yusra was admired by everybody, a factor which contributed to building her distinguished character and to imposing her presence, despite living in a society that was entirely different from the one back home in many ways.
She moved to the secondary school with the same prominence and high degrees and at her desire and high degree, Yusra was admitted to one of the best schools in London, a school which encourages cultural multiplicities and in which a student must study other languages in addition to the English and Yusra chose Arabic and German and she carried on with the usual excellence.
At that time, the family decided to move from their temporary residence in Chelsea, in central London to their present one in another neighborhood. Yusra and her brothers, accordingly, had to be transferred to another school that was 100 meters away from the new house. At first the Chelsea school declined to permit the transfer because they were distinguished students, something which was an advantage to that school but, on insistence by the family the administration succumbed and expressed willingness to readmit them and their positions would be reserved for them at any time they chose to return.
Only one week later, the students felt unhappy in the new school and asked their parents to go back to the old one and they eventually returned to the joy of their old mates and to the school administration that organized a celebration on that return.
Yusra continued her studies until she sat for the examination of the university admission certificate which she passed with excellence and a high rate and, according to the British system of education, a student must study for two years to obtain a diploma known as (GGC) to qualify him or her for entering the university.
Since the secondary school, Yusra's choice was to study architecture and by the start of the diploma study, and upon learning that her country possessed a civilization that attracted the Europeans, she began work with a British-German company that was working on repairs of the antiquities of Nuga'ah and Musawarat in North Sudan. She took part with the personnel of the company in making many designs that astonished them; they commended her performance and advised her to study architecture and designing, but by the end of the diploma study, Yusra decided to move her choice of study from architecture to medicine. This decision followed consideration and discussion within the family that explored her choices and, with some assistance, they let her decide by herself. She believes that Europe is well advanced in architecture and does not need any addition but an addition in medicine can be needed.
Yusra made this decision of studying and concentrating on medicine after touring, during the last days of the diploma study, a number of medical research and scientific centers.
Although she is open-minded, Yusra is committed to her religious faith and was very conservative in her conduct and way of life and, for this reason; she had to join a university in the living neighborhood so that she could stay at home with her family.
And during the search for a university, Yusra had the chance of fulfilling her intensive desire of joining the world's leading and renowned Cambridge University. What further encouraged her for joining Cambridge was that the University included the historic girls' college which was established as documentation for the start of the girls' education in Britain.
Yusra applied for admission and passed all interviews and obtained high marks in the entry test that qualified her for admission despite a heated world-wide competition for joining the college.
The college accepts only nine girl students and Yusra was at the top of the contestants, judging from the result she obtained in the interviews plus the previous prizes and certificates of distinction and excellence she possessed.
This constituted a challenge and required from her additional self-confidence and Yusra lived up to the challenge and moved to Cambridge, to a new area and a new environment away from the quiet family environment, to the student life in which she depended on herself in the study and in everything.
Yusra entered the University with the same distinction and ingenuity and she was fond of medicine as a science through which she can offer a lot for the interest of the community. Yusra was active in all associations in the college and she had the remarkable ability of research and always tended to throw a great deal of questions, a tendency that qualified her to being a great researcher of a unique caliber.
The system of the study of medicine in Cambridge University is undergone in two stages, three years each, and during the first three years, the student studies all sciences, including the morgue and obtains the bachelor and the student could not continue with the studies, he or she, can be transferred to another university.
Yusra succeeded with distinction and continued her studies and was promoted to the fourth level, spending most of the time in the hospital with a few lectures to attend.
At the start of the fourth level, the University requested Yusra to teach and supervise the students of the first level, something which gave her more self-confidence and added to her research competence.
At that time, out of her concern with the woman issues, Yusra participated in conducting a major research on the depression and worry experienced by a pregnant woman and the impact thereof on the embryo. The research developed into a book that included a full chapter by Yusra that is taught in all faculties of medicine and is sold in Amazon, the world's largest bookshop.
This further promoted Yusra as a researcher and she was selected among a group of researchers for participation in a conference in The Netherlands on the issue.
Yusra also took part in another conference in Britain with a scientific paper on limb transplants.
According to the system of study in Cambridge, a student is accorded, during the semi-final level, a scholarship for a training course to undergo in a university other than Cambridge in Britain or any other country. This provide Yusra with an opportunity for travelling outside Britain to Asia, Africa or America but she opted for one of the third-world countries to gain a different experience and she ultimately chose her country, the Sudan because, during her previous visits to her home country, she noticed the risk of circumcision on the health of the mother and the child, and knowing that it was one of the Sudanese traditions, she wondered why the people cling to it despite its risk and its inconsistence with the faith and she pondered on the way of getting rid of it.
Yusra decided to devote the period of the training course in Sudan to this issue and continue study and research for abolishing this practice.
Dr. Ahmed went on saying that he approached a doctor in Sudan to ask about the possibility of his daughter coming to Sudan for a training course. The doctor contacted Soba University Hospital and the University of Khartoum and both of them issued their immediate consent.
Dr. Ahmed says he has a far-reaching opinion that is not for the sake of his daughter but for establishing a partnership between Cambridge and the Sudanese universities for the technical and scientific support in all fields.
Yusra made the request to Dr. Beshir al-Jaily, the Professor of Obstetrics and gynecology and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Khartoum, who marveled her standard from the biography he had received before her arrival in Sudan. He supervised the training course and prepared for her an atmosphere that was conducive to the research that lasted for six weeks.
The professor allowed Yusra the freedom of movement in all stages of the research and she began by getting acquainted with the student colleagues who were engaged in the same field and started the research by interviewing the concerned women in the dormitories and in the private clinics after designing the project and questions which were approved by Dr. Jaily who made some observations.
During that period, Yusra was able to fully recognize the circumcision practice before returning to London where each student had to write a report and to make a presentation about the training course and about the extent of the benefit from the training course by the health system in the host country.
Yusra's report was one of the two best reports made by the students and this was an accomplishment and a gain to Soba University Hospital and the University of Khartoum.
With this research, Yusra managed to scientifically pinpoint the adverse impacts of the circumcision and the accompanying health and psychological hazards which are inconsistent with the religion and science and which violate the human rights of women.
The research displayed appreciable efforts by Soba Hospital for enlightenment of the public on the hazards of circumcision and the programme of awareness being sponsored by that Hospital, making it worth the required support as a hospital to which major cases are referred.
It was this great effort that enabled Yusra to excel professors in contesting for, and winning the award of the British Royal College in Singapore.
Yusra, with this remarkable excellence, played a great role in the success of her brothers as she set an example for them to follow suit to be like or better than her.
Before his graduation in the Faculty of Chemical Engineering in the University of London, her brother Abu Bakr found a job with one of the biggest companies that manufacture the Airbus engines.
Sadek studied mechanical engineering and at the secondary school, he was honored by the British Prime Minister for participation in a programme for fighting crime and narcotics and was appointed a good-will ambassador among a group of 20 influential young persons.
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