A Ticket Forward wrote -
Diamond in the rough, shines to rediscovers her roots.
Dream Destination: Mombasa, Kenya
Travel Companions: Her mother and father, Abdi and Hodan.
Meet Saida, a earnest 17 year from Toronto, Canada. At first blush she’s your average high school student: about to graduate, valedictorian candidate, eagerly anticipating acceptance into a nursing program in 2015. But this regular teenager has flourished from roots few of us can imagine.
Saida’s family is from Somalia. A terrifying and brutal civil war began in 1991 and forced her family to flea. Selling whatever they couldn’t carry, they boarded a ship to Kenya, winding up in a refugee camp and lived in Mombasa for the next year. The civil war shattered her family, scattering them across the world: her father settled in Italy, her grandmother in the Czech Republic, her mother was alone with three daughters in Mombasa, Kenya for a year.
Eventually her family regrouped in Canada, and started all over again. Although her community is vibrant and full of life, her family never completely escaped the darkness of violence. Saida has grown up in a neighborhood better known for its crime rate and drugs - where gang violence is all too common, and graduating high school is not common enough. But Saida, bolstered by the love and support she received from her family, is determined to find a brighter future.
She is building this future by helping to build her community, one brick at a time: mentoring youth after school through basketball, supporting her parents’ work with breakfast programs, vocational training and launching the community’s first farmers’ market. A strong advocate of gender and equity rights for women, Saida and her friends even started their own initiative to raise funds for a global NGO at her high school.
Saida reached out to A Ticket Forward, longing to visit Kenya. To Saida, Kenya is like her first home – even though she has never been there. It’s the setting where she has heard countless stories of her mother’s strength, resilience and perseverance to deliver her family to a new life. She longs know where she came from and experience the heroism of her family to give her such an incredible opportunity at life.
When she leaves for university in the fall, she will carry with her an experience that will broaden her perspective, fuel her determination to keep building towards that brighter future. We need more youth like Saida: strong, determined, and doing everything they can to improve their community. Show Saida your support; any amount will help.