I met Fartun three years ago when she was a freshmen in high school. She joined a program that paired her up with a mentor and I, thankfully, got to fill that role. While this sounds cliché, the truth is that I've probably learned a lot more from her than she has from me. Both of us have been saddened by Trump's recent refugee ban — Fartun's family is from Somalia, one of the seven countries under Trump's temporary travel ban. Fartun's mother walked from Somalia to the refugee camp in Kenya in order to give her family a better life. Fartun and I realize that people are afraid of what they do not know, and recognize that many people do not have refugees or Muslims in their close-knit circles. We hope that by sharing a piece of her story, the refugee crisis and the subsequent ban will become something a little more personal for you. Below are the words Fartun wanted to share with you. - Jenny
I am Kenyan, and grew up in one of the biggest refugee camps in East Africa. In the Kenyan refugee camp my family and I dealt with outbreaks of malaria, choking dust storms, poisonous snakes and scorpions; we depended on handouts of food to survive. My family moved to Colorado in 2003 because of changes the United Nations made. Before coming here it was a long process we had to go through, such as background, and health history. I faced a bit of culture shock at first, but gradually adjusted to my new home and culture. I started learning how to speak English at age four, and now at age seventeen, I am quite proficient. I have done well academically, however socially I have faced many obstacles. I am Muslim, so my religion, culture, and dress have often been the point of rebuke among my peers.
A Hijab or a veil is a choice I made. Those who wear Hijab like me are seen as being forced to wear the scarf over their head or that it is oppressive. What some people fail to realize is that a lot of women wear the Hijab by choice. I'm a Muslim girl who was born in Kenya, but raised in Denver. The first thing people see is the Muslim part of me. There are many stereotypes labeled on girls like me such as I don't speak English, don’t know how to be an “American” and that I might be a terrorist. One question I always asked myself growing up was, “Why are people scared of me?"
Going to school and getting an education has always been important to me. Pursuing an education that is rich and whole will allow more opportunities for success in my life then my parents could imagine. I view my future as a gift. I will use the power and determination I have cultivated thus far in life to pursue my dream of becoming a pediatric physician.