Photo Credit | AI Generated

By Aaliyah Gohir and Shamsa Araweelo

Shamsa Araweelo is an inspiring British-Somali activist and survivor of FGM, who recently received a well- deserved mention in BBC’s 100 Women 2023. When Shamsa was only six years of age, she was subjected to female genital cutting, a practise completely embraced and normalised in her community.

Shamsa has now gone into raising awareness about FGM through her fierce and passionate activism dedicated to ending all violence against women, but particularly concerning FGM and Honour-Based Violence. She uses her TikTok and Instagram platforms to educate others on the harmful practises young girls can unfortunately be subjected to, as well as bravely speaking out about her own experience and journey, which takes a lot of courage. Shamsa has also worked with councils, the Met Police and founded a charity called ‘Garden of Peace’ to further her cause to end FGM and support survivors.
Shamsa is truly an inspiration, and her written piece below, titled ‘A Love Letter to my Inner Child’ illustrates her journey of self-love, courage and resilience...

Shamsa is truly an inspiration, and her written piece below, titled ‘A Love Letter to my Inner Child’ illustrates her journey of self-love, courage and resilience; so thank you Shamsa for kindly allowing us to share your love letter on MWN Hub.

I do hope her letter can be a ‘guiding light’ for others; to inspire growth and self-love in overcoming your own personal battles, and to most importantly inspire more action in the fight against ending FGM. Regardless of faith, background, or culture, we should all be in support of protecting young girls and advocating to end violence against women and girls - not just in these 16 days of focused activism, but all year round. Speak up for women and girls who can’t, and in particular Muslim women and girls who face additional barriers.

Please see below Shamsa Araweelo’s written piece: ‘A Love Letter to my Inner Child.’ (Note: Guditan means FGM.)

By Shamsa Araweelo,

As I write these lines, I envision the garden of our shared existence - each petal, a memory, every thorn, a challenge overcome. In the quiet corners of our past, a whisper of pain lingers, a tale of Guditan, a wound etched upon our innocence. Six delicate petals, innocence severed, stitched by the hands of our misguided tradition.

Yet, amidst the shadows that cast their sorrow, let our garden bear witness to resilience. The wounds may have healed, but the scars remain, a testament to the strength within. Like a flower that defies a storm, our spirit stands tall, unyielding.

In the silence that often shaded our story, I found a voice - a melody rising from the depths of my being. The garden, once silent, now resonates with the song of self-discovery. It speaks of the courage to confront the pain, to embrace the scars as markers of triumph, not shame.

Oh, little one, the journey has been challenging, but I look upon you with pride. See how we’ve flourished, defying the odds, cultivating a garden of self-love and acceptance. Your petals, though scarred, radiate beauty that surpasses the wounds.

I stand here today, a testament to the strength you unknowingly shared with me. The path was filled with thorns, but each step away from collective harm was a step toward liberation. The shame that once veiled us has been replaced by the warmth of authenticity.

Be proud, my cherished inner child, for the person you were has crafted the tapestry of the person I am today. You, with your innocence intact, carried the seeds of resilience. Together, we have nurtured a garden of empowerment.

In these 16 days of activism, let our story be a guiding light. May it inspire others to foster the gardens within, to embrace the beauty that arises from overcoming darkness. For in our shared journey, we find strength, hope and the enduring power of self-love.

With unwavering love, Big Shamsa

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