Ruhullah Ramaki: Refugee from Afghanistan who became a doctor in Ukraine

Ruhullah is happy that he can give back to the country that gave him a second chance

Рухулла Рамакі, біженець з Афганістану, працював по ночах, щоб звести кінці з кінцями під час свого навчання, проте став лікарем і відкрив приватну клініку в Одесі

Children’s toys lay in the lobby as a large “IBN-Sina Group” sign is placed as a backdrop for the front desk.  With large windows from floor to ceiling, this modern hospital clinic radiates comfort.  Moments later, Ruhullah Ramaki, 31, enters the room and greets staff in both Russian and Arabic with a smile and some humor.   He is returning from completing a heart surgery from another hospital.

I didn’t even know the Ukrainian alphabet when I first arrived here,” he begins while analyzing heart monitor diagrams at his desk.  “I worked really hard, worked the night shift at the market, and did whatever I needed to do to make ends meet while going to school.”  Moments later, a staff member informs him that a patient has arrived for his appointment.  He quickly puts on his white medical coat with subtle green design.

Working alongside Ukrainian staff, Ramaki founded this clinic in hopes to give both refugees and Ukrainian community members a place where they can confidently obtain treatment and care.  The clinic provides a wide range of services; from general checkup to prenatal care.  He built this facility from the ground up, fulfilling his dream of opening a private practice.

I wanted to do this first for Ukrainians, I wanted them to know that I love Ukraine just like Afghanistan because I was reborn here.

Ramaki came to Ukraine at just 19 years old, escaping the war in his home country.  Coming to this country wasn’t his initial intention.  He originally hoped to go to a larger and more popular European destination such as Germany.  It was his parent’s wish that he went to Ukraine specifically because he had a brother there.  They felt more comfortable knowing that their young son would be near family, protected and not alone in an unknown country. Regardless of his hesitations, he took the opportunity available, only to discover that Ukraine had more to offer him than any other country.

If I was in Germany, it would have been a lot harder to open a clinic at my age!” He notes, “I realized that Ukraine is a great country.  The people here have been so friendly and helpful.

His appreciation for Ukraine was so strong that opening a clinic wasn’t enough for him.  Because he was given a second chance through the support of the local community, he started a non-profit organization dedicated to youth and adults with disabilities.  With the support from UNHCR, the program provides art classes, therapy sessions, and even female empowerment trainings.  He has even begun conducting specialized classes on heart surgery, bringing in surgeons and experts from different medical facilities around his community.

A busy, yet determined man, he juggles various projects as his mind constantly spins new ideas.

When asked about his life in Afghanistan, his typing suddenly stops. He gazes over as if reliving the past and reflects on watching dots falling from the sky, wondering where each would burst.  He was determined to leave his country, to make something of his life, and to help those who have struggled, as he did, find hope.

Conflicts in the Middle East have sparked negative tensions against refugees around the world.  Ramaki’s wish is to break those stereotypes and become an example of the potential that refugees have to offer.

I just want the world to know that we are talented people, if you just give us an opportunity.

Ramaki greets about 10 students for his new medical class.  Now focused on medical education, he has stepped down as director of the clinic to dedicate his time to the future generation. He is currently searching for a new facility closer to universities, providing easier access for students.  The bright green lines on the walls leads the students to their classroom.  This color is reflected throughout the clinic and even on staff uniform. A symbol of life, renewal, and energy, even through subtle nuances in a meaning of a color, he hopes his clinic will be a safe haven for those who visit.