The Common Good hosted a film screening and discussion about the film Desert Flower. Joined by the star of the film, Liya Kebede, Acclaimed Producer and Author, Susan Fales-Hill and Former First Lady of New York, Michelle Paige Paterson, in partnership with InStyle Magazine and National Geographic Entertainment
Desert Flower was adapted from the international bestseller of the same name which has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. It traces the improbable journey of a young Somali woman who treks across the African Desert to find fame and fortune in the west, and in doing so, discovers the strength and voice to bring attention to the dismaying practice of female genital mutilation and it’s assault on a woman’s freedom and dignity.
Waris Diris lives a double life - by day she is a famous model and UN spokeswoman on women’s rights in Africa, one night she dreams of her native Somalia. Waris, one of 12 children, was born into a traditional family of desert nomads in East Africa. She remembers her early childhood as carefree -racing camels and moving on with her family to the next grazing spot - until it came her turn to meet the old woman who administered an ancient custom imposed on most Somalian girls: circumcision. Waris suffered this torture when she was just five years old. Then, age 12, when her father attempted to arrange a marriage with a 60 year old stranger in exchange for five camels - she took flight. After an extraordinary escape through the dangerous desert she made her way to London and worked as a maid for the Somalian ambassador until that family returned home. Penniless and speaking little English, she became a janitor in McDonalds where she was famously discovered by a fashion photographer. Her story is a truly inspirational and an extraordinary self-portrait of a remarkable woman whose spirt is as breathtaking as her beauty.