Somali refugee shares her story, encourages activism

Photo courtesy Dan Ivis/DMACC.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, inside DMACC Building 6 auditorium, Saida Dahir shared her story as a Muslim Somali refugee who, along with her seven siblings and single mother, fled to the United States.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” Dahir said when referencing President Trump’s travel ban that listed seven countries, of which her home Somalia was one of them.

Her story is sadly one that’s all too common; in the world there are 64.4 million refugees misplaced, and over 24 million fleeing their countries. Furthermore, 50 percent of the world’s total refugee population are children under the age of 18.

Dahir had the audience participate in an exercise where all closed their eyes and imagined life as an immigrant child, lost and alone in a foreign land where everyone around you spoke another language.

After the exercise was over, she continued to share her journey as a public speaker how she wrote her first poem while trying to help her brother write raps, and when she performed her first poem at a middle school talent show.

After the talent show had ended, many of her classmates said that her poems “connected with them,” thus pushing her forward to continue writing poems.

Dahir spoke about a poem she wrote about the travel ban, which she performed both on stage, and in front of congressmen and women at a protesting event, only to be met with constant push back.

Dahir also went on to perform other poems about the Second Amendment in relation to school shootings, and about police brutality towards minority groups. She spoke about how a member of her local community, Elija Smith, was shot 3 times and killed by a police officer.

She participated in another rally where she spoke in front of her own community, asking for a simple investigation of the officer who shot Elija. However, this never happened, for as in most cases, the officer was acquitted. Dahir refused to call this a failure though, because it still helped to raise awareness in her own community.

Dahir encouraged the audience to step up and speak about whatever issues or topics they’re passionate about, even if they’re not political. She then had the audience close their eyes again and think about what it is they want to raise awareness to. The audience then opened their eyes, and various members spoke about issues that really matter to them.

Dahir said that she wants to support the clean air act because her hometown has a serious asthma issue.

The audience performed one last exercise where everyone in attendance would say one word that they wished to hear in future. During this exercise, the word “hope” was the most popular answer.

Dahir spent the final moments of her speaking event answering various questions from the audience. However, as the final a few seconds drew near, she reinforced her hope that everyone in attendance would take a stand for what they believe in, “Because if we all give up, then nothing will get done.”

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