Sarah Kureshi

Your inspiring story of the day comes from Sarah Kureshi, a Pakistani-American doctor living in Washington, DC.

Sarah has contributed to global society in a whole host of ways. One of her formative experiences was volunteer work at a refugee clinic on the Thai-Burma border during her undergraduate days:

I traveled with a group of college students involved in the Free Burma Coalition and on our travels to reach the border we met with numerous human rights groups and social activists. Through that trip I realized that fixing broken bones or giving medications was not going to do much to change the situation of the Burmese people. It was during this trip that I realized I wanted to heal not only wounds, but also communities.

Then, as part of her thesis on gender-based violence for her Master of Public Health degree from Harvard, Sarah volunteered at a shelter for victims of sex trafficking in India:

“I lived in a shelter home in New Delhi with 40 girls who had been rescued from sex trafficking and other exploitive situations,” says Kureshi. “I  taught them classes in English, typing and self-defense, and conducted physical exams and mental health assessments. It was an unforgettable  experience.”

Sarah has also used sports to bridge the gap between countries in tension. In 2005, in the midst of “Axis of Evil” rhetoric from the Bush White House, Sarah was the sole competitor representing America at the 4th Islamic Women Games in Tehran, Iran. When Sarah was tipped off to the competition through a Muslim women’s community group, she didn’t know of anyone in the US who had even heard of the Games. Nevertheless, she sought to build a peaceful bridge between the countries:

“It’s wonderful to get to know people as people, regardless of what the governments say,” Ms. Kureshi [said], referring to the 25-year estrangement between the US and the Islamic Republic. “Part of the purpose [of coming here] is to bridge some of the gaps … and show Iran that Americans are interested in them and their culture.”

“If something good can come from [this competition], that will be wonderful,” says Kureshi. “I think people will be very receptive, because when people in the US hear that you are going to Iran, their ears prick up.”

When she was interviewed by the Mayo Clinic, her M.D. alma mater, in Spring 2007, Sarah had high aspirations to continue serving the global community:

“Ultimately, I see myself practicing community oriented primary care in the United States while also doing public health and development work in the Middle East and South Asia. I want to use my life and profession to help empower communities and build bridges between cultures. I feel that using the global language of health is a very effective way to do that.”

In 2011, Sarah went on to receive a Community Health Leadership Development Fellowship from Georgetown University. Last year, she joined Human Rights Watch in calling on the International Olympic Committee to require Saudi Arabia to allow female athletes to attend the London Games. It appears that she’s now an assistant professor in Georgetown’s Department of Family Medicine and a practicing physician at Unity Health Care. Best of luck and congrats to her.

You can read more about her in this great interview with The SkinLess Project. She’s also got a pretty amazing photo stream on Flickr.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: