Set in the rugged shrublands of rural Ethiopia, the contentious neighborhoods of South Africa, and the icy streets of Michigan, Warda is the story of a fierce young woman on a tireless quest to become the first member of her family to go to college.
Born in Saudi Arabia to undocumented, ethnic Somali parents living hundreds of miles from their ancestral homeland, Warda Mohamed Abdullahi loses her mother in a horrific accident as a baby and must live apart from her father until she's eleven years old. As she grows up, she faces tragedy and triumph, from staring down a wild leopard to protect her family's sheep and goats, to carefully crossing borders and evading immigration officials across Africa, and traveling with her family to America to begin life anew.
Warda is a powerful memoir that will help readers understand the inequities and injustices embedded in a global system that determines who is allowed to move freely and live where they choose. It is the story of a father's relentless quest to give his eldest daughter the opportunities he never had and a daughter's perseverance, determination, and steadfast refusal to let go of a dream.
Warda Mohamed Abdullahi currently resides in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, with her hooyo and aabo. She recently graduated from Saint Catherine University and is taking a year off to be with her family, including her daughter Rahma Abu Bakar Ibrahim. Warda looks forward to continuing her journey towards her doctorate in medicine, her lifelong learning in Islam, and spending time with her family.
"An uplifting first-person narrative that takes the author from the African savanna to a US high school. Authentic, and laden with a deep grit and appreciation for her Muslim faith and her family." - Kenneth Olivier, MD, professor and vice-chair of education, radiation oncology, Mayo Clinic
"This is more than an autobiography. It is a book of lessons: history lessons from East Africa; lessons about love, loss, grief, and trepidations; and lessons about how the small moments shape and guide us. A captivating narrative, Warda gives the reader a front-row seat to an extraordinary journey of a determined, smart, and kind young woman—and one who always knows when to share just the right amount of humor. How lucky are we that Warda chose to share her story with the world!" - Meghan R. Mason, PhD, MPH, associate professor and program director in public health at Saint Catherine University
"This book is an accomplishment and a compelling story for the whole community—refugees, Somalis, immigrants, people of color, Africans, Muslim women, English language learners. It is the stuff of dreams that can still come true for others as it did for Warda . . . Her story is an inspirational message for all aspiring college students that 'you can reach your dream too' but especially meaningful for first-generation immigrants who come to the US with the hope of a better life, for which education is often the key." - Susan Bosher, professor and director of ESL, Saint Catherine University