Ex-top model Waris Dirie, known worldwide for her relentless fight against female genital mutilation, will come to the Congress Center in Heidenheim on Sunday, May 12, as part of a charity event. In advance, the bestselling author spoke to the Heidenheimer Zeitung about morning sports, respectful interaction with nature and the musical "Desert Flower", which will premiere in February 2020 at the Theater in St. Gallen.
Q. Waris, with your book "Desert Flower" you have brought the topic of genital mutilation into the public consciousness that would never have been created without your own passion story. Does the success of being a human rights activist and all that you have been able to do with your engagement so far, be a kind of consolatory sense for the crime committed against you?
With my mission, my fight against this cruel crime against innocent little girls, I do not seek consolation, but I want that madness to end forever. I have forgiven my mother and am at peace with myself. But I like to help other people when they need compassion and comfort.
Unlike many people assume, genital mutilation is also practiced in Europe.
In 2003 and 2004, with the team of my "Desert Flower Foundation", I undertook a covert search in African communities and female doctors across Europe, compiling more than 4,000 pages of reports from my staff and manuscripts. This resulted in the book "Painkillers", which was published in many countries in 2005. In all major European cities, our team found clippers who were able to practice their bloody handiwork unhindered by the authorities and unscrupulous female doctors willing to circumcise girls.
Q. Desert, catwalk, UN ambassador: Your CV is marked by extremes. Do you wish every now and then a "normal" everyday life with family, job, summer vacation and a small vegetable patch behind the house?
When I'm at home or on vacation, I do just that. I prepare breakfast for my two sons in the morning. When they are at school, I do my morning exercise, then call the office and cook lunch for my sons.
Q. Her path to a self-determined life has encouraged many young women. Do you receive letters from those affected asking for help or a personal interview?
I get a lot of emails every year, and when a campaign is running, a few thousand emails a year. My principle is that all mails are answered. This can sometimes take a while.
Q. You were born and raised in Africa. Are there traditions or ways of life that have a permanent place in your life?
I left my native Somalia at the age of 13 and have been living in cities like London, New York or Vienna for over 40 years. I've taken something culturally from everywhere and that's how I live. If I have taken something from Africa, then certainly my zest for life, my positive thinking, my respect for water and my respect for Mother Earth and nature.
Q. What happened if...? Do you sometimes wonder how your life would have been if you had stayed with your nomad family?
No. Even as a little girl in the desert, I knew there were bigger tasks waiting for me out in the world.
Q. Which projects are you currently working on?
I'm building Desert Flower Schools in Sierra Leone with my "Desert Flower Foundation", working with a great international artistic team on the musical "Desert Flower," which will premiere on February 20, 2020, and writing a new book, also in 2020 will appear.
Q. Talking about genital mutilation for years, leaves its mark. Have you decided to retire from the public on a specific day X?
No. I'm not the type of person who retreats or gives up. What I make in life, I also pull through consistently.