Early on, I identified that that could help me find a way back to my family or that maybe it would give me an opportunity to bring them to me. The system doesn't help you much. You have to find your own way to survive. My Danish classmates had parents who would come for reviews with their teachers, but my parents weren't there so they were only a distant part of my education, and they weren't there to guide me or give me advice. So, you are alone in this world.
The loneliness was the hardest challenge. But that's life and every day you have to learn to make your own decisions. Without that kind of support, many kids suffer depression and anger. Some turn to violence or drugs. Others are lured to al-Shabab. Anywhere there's love, anywhere there's acceptance, they go there - even if it's bad love, because they crave the attention. You need to feel like you're somebody, a human being that people care about. That's how some are deceived into believing they'll find happiness in terror groups.
I got an interview to work in an electronics shop. The next day, they called me and said they couldn't employ me. But I didn't give up.
Diriye Osman - Literature
I was young and determined. After a few months, I sent a second application and we had another interview that lasted 30 minutes. Again, they called me to say that I didn't get the job.
After some more months, I made a third application. Finally, they hired me. I had to fight hard just to get hired. It took me one year, but I never gave up. They explained that I hadn't been hired because I was black, and they had been afraid I would drive customers away.
OUR SOMALIA IN EUTM-S… Short stories from EUTM-S members…
In the end, they were impressed with my determination and could see that I was young and eager, and that I had a big smile and could speak the language very well. I stayed eight years in that job. Sometimes, you have to accept that people won't like or accept you, but you have to find a way to work around it because you're living in someone else's culture. We had activities like football, reading and language tutoring and cultural events. I wanted to tell the story of these young people, so they could have something in their own voice, something that reflected them.
We called it Qaran TV, which means "nation" in Somali. We did news, Somali music, debates and talk shows that addressed the practical and legal points of living in Denmark, Somali issues, education and health. It was his first trip back to the Somali capital since fleeing the civil war in I wanted to make films about Somalis like me who were learning to make a new life far away from home. I liked the idea that I could use documentary to help Somalis and Danes understand each other better.
It was a way of getting to know people beyond the stereotypes. For example, everyone in my community grew up with jokes that we were pirates, so in my first documentary, I went back to Somalia to find out if anyone in my extended family might be pirates. I found out that some of them were. I wanted my films to show that the whole family, and all of society, would pay the price if they chose a violent, anti-social path … I saw a need to give a voice to people like me who were lost in some way, or who were struggling to build new lives far away from home. Often, I was very sad, because the media and society only talked about Somalis in light of crime or radicalisation.
Somali people didn't matter. If you're Somali, they think you're a criminal, a pirate or that you're in al-Shabab. But that is a small representation of who we are. So, I saw it as my responsibility to talk about these young people and to make them part of the dialogue, to give them a voice and a sense of belonging.
The Story of Us (E-Book)
Society doesn't accept you at first. They push you out - you're black, you're Muslim, and they prevent you from getting work and enjoying life the way that they enjoy life.
So, I understand Mohammed in many ways. I know people who went the same way he did. Some got into drugs and were in and out of jail. Some joined terror groups. Not everyone can integrate, some don't survive. They get lost, and once you get lost, it's hard to find your way again. But others do very well.
Yusuf said his grandfather and his uncle both died after being attacked by lions. That was before he was born. But the stress of the herder life eventually led him to decide he had to leave home. It's realities like these that he hopes people will learn from his stories.
In a new book, the founders of the firm that compiled it defend their work.
He wants to answer questions about Somalis and Somalia. Yusuf's stories touch on life before and during Somalia's civil war. He writes of how people were cast to the winds and spread across the world. It's a subject he knows well. He writes in the lyrical Somali style. He believes he was lucky to come of age in Somalia when poetry and singing blossomed as the nation found a sense of itself.
He said he finds it easier to develop a plot in English. But he also wades into less comfortable topics. Yusuf said he finds the social stratification in Somali society abhorrent.