BY JOAQUIN CONTRERAS | SUN JOURNAL
LEWISTON — Inspired in part by his time in a refugee camp in Kenya, a Lewiston man last month was the first Somali American appointed to the Maine Board of Pharmacy.
Abdifatah Ahmed, a pharmacist who works in Gardiner and is co-founder of Lewiston-based Maine Community Integration, was appointed to the board Feb. 23 and will be formally inducted April 1.
The 46-year-old was born in Mogadishu and lived in Nairobi, Kenya, before immigrating to the United States in 1992. He learned English while living in Kenya and improved his fluency at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston.
In August 2003, Ahmed moved to Lewiston after graduating from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science with the goal of working as a pharmacist.
“Growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya, I have seen many people suffering because of a lack of medicine and not having access to health care,” he said. “The reason I chose to go into pharmacology is because I was curious how medicine works in human body, especially of mechanism of action.”
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The married father of five is a staff pharmacist at Garden Apothecary Pharmacy in Gardiner, a role consisting of everything from filling prescriptions and dispensing medication to ensuring the security of controlled substances in the facility and resolving medication-related issues.
Ahmed is also a co-founder and former board chairman of Maine Community Integration, a Lewiston-based organization focused on helping residents from other countries assimilate into the community through social education and advocacy programs.
He continues to advocate for changes that affect low-income communities across the state. He has been involved in startup programs aimed at educating new Mainers about health care, medicine side effects, and how to properly administer medication. Ahmed was also involved in starting tutoring and after-school programs.
Maine Community Integration is hosting a celebration for Ahmed’s induction at 6 p.m. Friday at the Hampton Inn on Lincoln Street in Lewiston.
Ahmed said his goals as a Maine Board of Pharmacy member include improving and elevating the profession of pharmacy in Maine.
“I would (like to tell anyone) in the Somali community or any immigrant in general trying to follow a similar path to work hard and everything is possible,” he said.