When Stars Are Scattered

“Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this intimate and touching portrayal of family and daily life in a refugee camp”–

Call Me American

Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop artists like Michael Jackson and watching films starring action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these real Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it suddenly became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. Desperate to make a living, Abdi used his language skills to post secret dispatches to NPR and the Internet, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. But as life in Somalia grew more dangerous, Abdi was left with no choice but to flee to Kenya as a refugee. In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America was filled with twists and turns and a harrowing sequence of events that nearly stranded him in Nairobi. Now a proud resident of Maine and on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why western democracies still beckon to those looking to make a better life.

Amina

Amina lives on the edges of Mogadishu. Her family’s house has been damaged in Somalia’s long civil war, but they continue to live there, reluctant to leave their home. Amina’s world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her father because his art has been officially censored, deemed too political. Then rebel forces kidnap Amina’s brother, forcing him to become a soldier in Somalia’s brutal ongoing war. Although her mother and grandmother are still with her, Amina feels vulnerable and abandoned. Secretly, she begins to create her own artwork in the streets and the derelict buildings to give herself a sense of hope and to let out the burden of her heart.

Hostage Three

Seventeen-year-old Amy, her father, and her stepmother becomes hostages when Somalian pirates seize their yacht, but although she builds a bond with one of her captors it becomes brutally clear that the price of life and its value are two very different things.

The Ogress and the Snake and Other Stories from Somalia

For millennia, Somalia has been crossed and recrossed by camel caravans of merchants bringing stories with them. Elizabeth Laird heard most of these oral retellings in Jigjiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region, in gardens, bars, small huts and beautiful old Harari houses. Some of them are written down here for the very first time.

When I Get Older: The Story Behind “Wavin’ Flag”

Winner of three Juno awards and recently named the Globe and Mail’s Artist of the Year, singer/songwriter/rapper/hip hop artist/social activist and, now, children’s book author, K’NAAN has a moving and inspiring personal story. K’NAAN (whose name means “traveler” in Somali) spent his childhood in Mogadishu surrounded by a loving family which included his aunt, one of Somalia’s most famous singers, and his poet grandfather. When K’NAAN was thirteen, he and his family fled war-torn Somalia and immigrated to Toronto. His story is inspiring, and his struggles as a new immigrant will speak to many young North Americans.

Now in his thirties, K’NAAN has had huge success as a singer. He has won many awards, and there are now twenty-two versions of his song, “Wavin’ Flag.” He lives in LA where he is at work on his third album. His children’s book is a tribute to growing up, and believing in the future, as he says: “When I get older, I will be stronger…”

Dan Eldon: Safari as a Way of Life

Photojournalist Dan Eldon left behind much more than the astonishing illustrated journals that would form The Journey is the Destination when he lost his life at age twenty-two while on assignment in Somalia. He also bequeathed a life story that has inspired students, teachers, artists, and creative activists—as well as a forthcoming film, an apparel line, and the Spring 2011 collection from Tom’s Shoes. Raised in Kenya, Dan grew up with a unique outlook on life. Through adventurous safaris and benevolent crusades around the world, he crafted a philosophy of curiosity, creativity, and charity. This unique visual biography showcases previously unpublished artwork from Dan’s acclaimed journals, letters, and snapshots that takes readers on a journey through Dan’s life and beyond, exploring the impact made by this remarkable artist on everyone who has encountered his story.

One Day We Had to Run! Refugee Children Tell Their Stories in Words and Paintings

In an anthology of words and drawings compiled by a United Nations relief worker, refugee children from Somalia, the Sudan, and Ethiopia share their feelings about their loss of their homes and their families.