Munira left Somalia because of violence but rather than losing her hope she has a big vision.
In one event, an electronics shop close to her university was completely destroyed a few minutes after she left her laptop for repair.
This of one of many events that did not stop Munira from following her vision to improve her skills, empowering and the education of other women in STEM, and use technologies such as Machine Learning & AI to solve problems in her country and beyond.
I want to solve community problems like droughts and also improve many industries in my country using Deep Learning and Computer Vision in the near future. Munira works among 40 other Collaborators in our AI for Good challenge with the UN Refugee Agency to predict forced displacement and climate change in Somalia. Read on your own what extraordinary mindset she has.
Munira, what is your background?
I am a Somali girl from Mogadishu living in Nairobi. I have completed my education in Bachelor’s degree in Computer Application from one of Somalia’s top universities in Technology in September 2017. In March 2018, I landed an internship as a software developer where I realized what I knew was only basic coding.
But before I could properly learn the skills required for a software developer, my family decided to move to Nairobi.
Why are you interested in AI and Data Science?
As Andrew Ng says, “AI is the new electricity”.
One of the things I want to do with AI is to use its power and make deaf people feel they are not disabled. I want them to communicate with their friends and families through video calls freely. The camera will be tracking the sign languages and translate it.
And hailing from Somalia, a country which is so behind from the world when it comes to Artificial Intelligence gives me the courage to pursue even more and empower other women to complete their AI education and see beyond their regular lives.
What is the most important life lesson that you’ve learned?
I lived in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, where most of the bombings happen and if it was not for the violent conflicts I think I would have never left home. When you see how my fellow Somalis are living their lives to the fullest, you will think that there is peace in Somalia.
The most important lesson I have learned is that there is always a grand plan in the background happening beyond our sight even though the process might be hard or painful. I had been unemployed for the past year leaving my dream job back at home but I am so so grateful for this year of experience.
Not only have I found what I really want to do in life, but I have also made the internet my university and took full advantage of the jobless year to learn the most needed skills, like AI Education) in 2019.
What is your vision for the next couple of years?
Make my way to big tech companies like Google and Facebook to gain some experience. I am also so passionate about getting more girls and women into tech. I wanna teach moms how to code while they are at home at looking after their families and create a space where we women in STEM are inspired and say to each other “I have been there and I am here to help you”.
I also wanna keep writing and share the little knowledge I have through blogging.
If you could share one thing with individuals who are in a similar situation then you were in Somalia, what would you tell them?
You don’t have to go to universities abroad to pursue your dreams and complete your education, everything now is on the internet. The best universities are now offering their courses online on websites like Edx and Coursera.
Just because your country is behind when it comes to some of the technologies like AI does not mean you too should be behind.
Make the “internet” your university.