When Safia Ibrahim was only a year old, living in her birth country of Somalia, she contracted polio - an infectious viral disease that affects the central nervous system and can cause temporary or permanent paralysis. For Safia, surviving polio was a miracle but not without its own challenges, as she was left paralyzed from the waist down.
When she was 8 years old – after an outbreak of civil war – Safia immigrated to Canada as a refugee. Moving to Canada meant an improved access to full health care; she was walking using the hand-knee-gait till then and received her first pair of braces in Canada.
As an adult, after having three of her own children, Safia decided to harness her experiences as a polio survivor to speak out about the necessity of vaccination and ensuring that no child whether in Canada or around the world, would have to go through the same experiences she went through. Safia is a vocal advocate for immunization for all children, and a UNICEF Canada Advocate for vaccination.