Halima Aden's TEDx Talk From Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

Halima Aden by An Le for Vogue Arabia Nov 2018 (5).jpg

EYE: Halima Aden By An Le For Vogue Arabia November 2018 + Halima's TEDX Talk From Kakuma Refugee Camp

Rising fashion star Halima Aden made another appearance in the pages of Vogue Arabia, posing in the November 2018 for images by An Le. The AOC post prompted me to circle back to watch Halima Aden’s TEDx Talk in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp, now that it’s available online.


“The aim is to steer away from the one-sided narrative of suffering and dejection,” the event page stated. “[It is] also about showcasing how refugees can help change not only their lives but the communities and countries in which they live.” The gathering marked the first time a TED event has been held in a refugee camp.

Aden expressed profound thanks for getting the opportunity to revisit the Kakuma, which was founded in 1992 and is currently home to more than 185,000 inhabitants. “This camp taught me so many lessons and I’m so grateful I had the chance to return,” the model told her 620,000 Instagram followers. “A lot has changed since I’ve left but we still have along way to go.” 

At this moment when refugees are under assault globally, including in America, Halima’s words are deeply felt here at AOC. I also found this essay expressing in words by Halima many of the concepts expressed in her TEDX talk, posted on Dream Refugee.org.

Immersed in trying to piece together all of the refugee models and their intersections with each other, I momentarily forgot my own words from April 1, in which I already wrote that Halima Aden and Adut Akech were both born in the same refugee camp: Kakuma.

These previous EYE article on Halima Aden touch on these topics. Her AOC Model Archives link includes Halima’s fashion shoots as well.

Halima Aden Model Archives @ AOC

Halima Aden Returns To Kakuma Refugee Camp In Kenya, Films TEDX Talk, Becomes UNICEF Ambassador


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. 

Halima Aden Archives @ AOC