It's been a long, lonely and sometimes dangerous road to Mayo Clinic for registered nurse Habibo Haji.
Born in Somalia, Habibo was just six months old when she was sent by her mother to live with her grandmother in a small, remote village. There, she lived in a simple, primitive hut built by her grandmother that Habibo says was nothing more than "woven rugs draped over an igloo style structure made from tree branches tied together." Cockroaches, beetles and other insect invaders routinely crawled across the hut's dirt floor at night.
Growing up, Habibo was taught to be a shepherd. By age 11, she was grazing her grandmother's sheep and goats in the grasslands of Somalia — alone — for months on end. Essentially living as a nomad, Habibo watched over the animals by day and slept under the protection of forests at night, fending off attacks by crocodiles, jackals, hyenas and more. She contracted and lived through malaria eight times along the way. Read the rest of Habibo's story.
This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.