Ten years ago, 38 million refugees were driven from their homes by the ravages of war and the toxins of persecution. Now the number has reached over 65 million.
Try to picture the loss of your home and neighborhood. Many refugees can never go home again. Even worse, they feel stranded in an unfamiliar world with no one to turn to for protection and support.
A Girl from Mogadishu is the uplifting and soul-stirring story of an African refugee who takes her pain and turns it around to serve as means of empowering other women.
Growing up in war-ravaged Somalia, Ifrah Ahmed (Aja Naomi King) is given an opportunity to get out of the country when an aunt in the United States sends money. Her journey is one of fear and confusion. She's alone with no assurance that the man accompanying her (Barkhad Abdi) will actually take her to her aunt; there is always the danger that she will end up in the hands of sex traffickers.
To her surprise, she is dropped off in Ireland as an unaccompanied minor seeking asylum. Her life and mission is changed when she undergoes a medical examination which reveals that as a little girl she was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). This painful and traumatic operation is usually done with a razor on girls between the ages of four and 12; the clitoris and inner and outer lips of the vagina are removed and the two sides of the vulva are stitched together. FGM can lead to severe bleeding, infertility, and pain during sex. The procedure is condoned in Somalia and many other parts of Africa; in Ifrah's case, she and her female cousins were subjected to cutting by an uncle, who was a doctor, supervised by their grandmother.
Ifrah decides to not only tell the truth about what happened to her but to speak out about this gender-based violence. She leads a campaign to get a law passed making it illegal in Ireland. Then she takes on the even greater challenge of stopping FGM in Somalia.
This movie is based on the true story of the world's foremost global activist against Female Genital Mutilation.
It also covers a range of other issues common in our world today: the treatment of women in war, sexual assault of women, the challenges facing refugees and asylum seekers, and gender-based violence. As Ifrah speaks out and rallies supporters around her, she proves to be a charismatic and positive presence, able to address not only the horror of FGM but also the societal history that has made it so prevalent. She models the spiritual practice of bearing witness. Here's how that practice is described by Bernie Glassman in his classic book Bearing Witness:
"In my view, we can't heal ourselves or other people unless we bear witness. . . . we stress bearing witness to the wholeness of life, to every aspect of the situation that arises. So bearing witness to someone's kidnapping, assaulting, and killing a child means being every element of the situation: being the young girl, with her fear, terror, hunger, and pain; being the girl's mother, with her endless nights of grief and guilt; being the mother of the man who killed, torn between love for her son and the horror of his actions; being the families of both the killed and the killer, each with its respective pain, rage, horror, and shame; being the dark, silent cell where the girl was imprisoned; being the police officers who finally, under enormous pressure, caught the man; and being the jail cell holding the convicted man. It means being each and every element of this situation."