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We Cannot Afford to Divide Ourselves: Fatuma Hussein at TEDxDirigo

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Fatuma Hussein came to Atlanta, Georgia, at age 12, after living in a Kenyan refugee camp during the civil war in her home country. Years later, in 2001, seeking a quieter and less populated environment, she and her family relocated to Maine, first to Old Orchard Beach and then to Auburn. Through her own experience, Hussein understood the many challenges of life in a new culture, and she wanted to help her fellow Somali refugees find an easier start in their adopted home. She started by informally providing transportation, translation, and additional assistance to other immigrants from her native land. From these grassroots efforts, United Somali Women of Maine was born, officially opening its doors in 2002, with Hussein as director. In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital when Somalia was still a nation, is the poster city for what calls “the most lawless and dangerous city on Earth… Even with guards, the likelihood of being injured, kidnapped, and/or killed is still very high, including potentially by said hirable guards… Traffic drives on the right.” As far as I could tell, traffic went every which way—and yes, I grant you that Mogadishu’s walls are bullet-pocked in three sizes: thumb size for AK-47s, fist size for .20 caliber, and both fists for .50 caliber.

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Jeffrey Gettleman and the photographer Sven Torfinn spent a week in Mogadishu, Somalia, with the rare opportunity to step into people's lives.

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