May 18, 2010
As a teacher in Lewiston, Maine, I have been involved in the Somali refugee community there. In 2007, Patti Buck, a professor at Bates College and one of the founders of Matawi, connected with me and we collaborated on a memoir writing project, "Memoirs for Change." My middle school students, including both native Maine youth and refugees from Somalia, worked together during the school day and in an after-school writing workshop to draft, revise, and share stories from their lives. The students learned so much about each other and formed long-lasting bonds during this process. We had a culminating celebration of writing at the end of the project where students read their stories aloud and families came to listen.
Their stories were published in a shiny, illuminating anthology entitled "They Were Very Beautiful: Such Things Are" along with several memoirs written by refugees currently living at Dadaab. The proceeds from this wonderful book are used to help young female refugees continue their education after completing high school.
Matawi offers incredible opportunities to aspiring youth who have persevered and successfully overcome hardship and obstacles. Matawi also educates us about the adversity refugees face and it helps build caring communities through the power of sharing stories.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
the success of the Memoirs for Change branch of Matawi. As described above, the power of young people sharing their life stories is both therapeutic and enlightening, and it creates a community where differences are recognized and respected.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every six months
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Board Member & I am helping young female refugees from Dadaab further their education after completing high school.