A man that wears many different hats, Omar Ceesay is a nurse and public relations officer at Bundung Maternal and Health Hospital, a husband and a father. He values the quality of care provided to all patients including his friends, family and community members. Determined to make a change in a country with a maternal mortality ratio of 597 deaths per 100,000 live births (World Bank Group, 2017) by keeping his ear and heart on the pulse of community, Mr. Ceesay at times spreads himself thin wanting to be the best and acquire the best hands-on experience. He works part time as a flex registered nurse at Innovarx Global Health and is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Catch Them Young -The Gambia which stages the annual Kids Got Talent Gambia competition geared towards providing a platform for children while popularizing laws that protect children in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of children.
We asked to share his journey as an #AfricanGirlDad and nurse, during a global pandemic.
Tell us your story. Who is Omar Ceesay?
I was born in a family of 9, and the first to attain university education. I attended Gambia Senior Secondary School where I served as Headboy. In 2012, I emerged as the winner of the all schools quick competition sponsored by Trust Bank Gambia Ltd. I, served as co-founder and Vice President of Nursing Students Association at The University of The Gambia, in 2015.
I am an entrepreneur and co-founder of Gibomas, a restaurant and catering service located in Bundung. I am the Public Relations Officer of Chosan Charitable Medical Foundation which provides free health care services to those living in hard-to-reach areas across The Gambia.
Currently, I am in the final year of my Master’s degree program (Community Health Nursing) at The University of The Gambia. Most importantly, I am happily married with a beautiful daughter.
What does Fatherhood mean to you?
For me, fatherhood means raising girls and boys who will be key players in ensuring the world becomes better for everyone; raising children who will respect diversity and yet, be deliberate in occupying spaces they feel is right for them; and it means raising children who will be honest and not trade their core values for anything, in a world that tries to make everyone dishonest.
Lastly, it means teaching my kids to respect all genders and dismantle gender roles that continue to drag our continent with their grit and greatness.
Being a male nurse in most African societies is deemed “unconventional”, how have you navigated situations that force you to address these perceptions? And what lessons do you hope to teach your daughter about her choice of profession?
I have always known my WHY, and I don’t take no for an answer. Therefore, it is easy to respond to critics and those who bring negative energy about my profession. I work with diligence and integrity. These are my core values, I uphold them as I deliver care to my patients.
I will teach my daughter to believe and trust her instincts, and know her WHY. These for me are critical in choosing a career of your choice. I want her to know that it is okay for her to do more than one thing, and that she can be anything her heart desires. Every where can be her space, if she feels it is the right place for her.
As a RN, how has the current state of affairs (Global Pandemic) affected your parental style/approach?
It is the hardest period in my life! I was separated from my daughter for two weeks, when I tested positive for Covid-19. The impact is still massive, as I am forced to limit interactions I have with my daughter to ensure she isn’t exposed to covid19 as I continue to work at the hospital.
What parental mistake(s) thus far have taught you the most about life?
Not prioritizing your family in the name of a busy work schedule. I have seen the effects, as it will make your children grow bitter because they will lack the necessary love they deserve from their parents. They, then might grow-up thinking it is okay to be angry and bitter about everything and everyone since they lacked the parental love which is necessary for their self actualisation.
Do you plan to have the sex education talk with your daughter that is not rooted in religion but based on science and human nature? From your professional perspective, what advice would you give to other fathers about sex education?
Yes, I do. I want fathers to see this as critical to the growth of their children especially, the girls. I want them to normalize talking about sex to their children to better prepare them for a world that is brutal and filled with diseases. This will better prepare them to face the world and live it to the best of their abilities.
What is your favorite activity with your daughter?
Feeding her! And, watching her grow healthy and smart, daily.
The Our Stories, Our Way Fast Three!
1. What’s your favorite book to read to your daughter?
2. If you and your daughter could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and why?
My mother, she is the true definition of hard work, dedication, diligence and brilliance. I want her to see herself through my mum, and learn from her story of raising 5 brilliant children with very limited resources and yet, provided them with the best of everything.
3. What’s your advice to other young fathers raising girls?
To be intentional in breaking all barriers that limit their growth and jeopardize the future for their daughters.
To be fathers who will show true love to their daughters so, they grow to appreciate and value themselves; and not demand anything less from men.