Model, beauty queen and humanitarian Halima Aden's life cup is overflowing with Gaia's bounty.
"I was the first Muslim homecoming queen at my high school, the first Somali student senator at my college, and the first hijab-wearing woman in many places, like the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant, the runways of Milan and New York fashion weeks, and even on the historic cover of British Vogue," she explained in a recent (but not yet posted) TED Talk she gave at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya — another first, both for her and for TED, as it was the first talk streamed from a refugee camp in the program's history. But the visit also held a special significance for Halima, as it marked the first time she had returned to Kakuma after moving to the United States at age 7.
The boundary-expanding 'Teen Vogue' traveled with Halima and filmmaker Mikey Kay to the camp where she was born, after her mother fled Somalia on foot. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 185,000 displaced peoples from 14 different countries currently live in Kakuma; some of those refugees were preparing to move to the United States after years of vetting before the Trump administration instituted a recently SC upheld travel ban from several countries, including Somalia -- home to the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab.
Now an American citizen and beauty queen from Minnesota, Halima carries Kakuma with her throughout her life. "I think, Did I make the most out of my journey to America? Did I make the most out of my life?" she tells Teen Vogue. "I know millions of other people, other girls my age, they got to stay behind. They got to live their lives out here, and I escaped, I made it out."
Now a UNICEF ambassador, Halima has declared herself fully committed to the fight for refugees. "I want to share my story. I want them to be able to feel like they can go and do anything they put their mind to." This concept -- to tell the positive stories behind refugee camps and not only the sorrowful ones -- is the inspiration behind the TEDx Talks in Kakuma. We will post those talks, including Halima's, as they are are made public. Meanwhile, Teen Vogue gives us Halima Aden in this inspiring, woman-power video.