I truly hope readers learn to believe in their imaginations and their ability to shape their own lives. That's what 'The Girl Who Smiled Beads' means to me.
You have this one life. If you keep being selfish and unkind, it's going to come back to you.
Safety should be a birthright.
As a child growing up in refugee camps, life taught me that many things were impossible. My older sister, Claire, taught me otherwise when her strength and resilience made the impossible possible in the way she worked, behaved, and took control of our lives.
The benefits of Umuganda are not merely economic. The day is intended to build community involvement and strengthen cohesion between persons of different background and levels. One such a benefit is that people can access authorities to articulate their needs and voice opinions on various issues.
To the young girl who fails to see opportunities around her: Awaken the intellectual curiosity within you. Go on, search for those opportunities and chase after them! Because when you are curious and in 'search mode,' you will meet a lot of people and learn, and when you find opportunities, you will be exhilarated rather than overwhelmed.
I want to create or be a platform for people who have been labelled as a victim. I'm not going to be their voice; that's their voice. I want to allow people to voice their life beyond labels.
It occurred to me that memorials shouldn't be grand. If you really want to honor the memory of a tragedy, you shouldn't create areas of calm reflection. You should make people uncomfortable. Put them in the shoes of those who perpetrated and those who suffered. Then ask, would they be able to forgive in these situations?
When you're in survival mode, you numb yourself.
The idea of somebody suffering is really painful to every human. In our collective language, we all too often see those who are suffering as a victim to be pitied, to be feared, and even sometimes to be despised. I want to redirect that narrative.
If we believe that a person seeking refuge is to be pitied, feared, despised, and looked down upon, we are doing ourselves a disservice.
Words will never be enough to quantify and qualify the many magnitudes of human-caused destruction.
In 2006, after 12 years being separated away from my family and then seven years knowing that they were dead and them thinking that we were dead, we reunited... in the most dramatic, American way possible. Live, on television.
My experiences have shown me that when an opportunity bigger than you comes along and you feel unprepared and doubtful, it is important to permit those emotions and let that energy drive you and inspire you to move forward.