SALT LAKE – Twin daughters of Somali refugees are working to fulfill their life dream of becoming doctors in Salt Lake, Utah, while standing at the front line to speak out for refugees amid rising hostility in the US.
“It’s so sad to see that children — newborns to five or 10 years old — they have so many complications physically and mentally,” Anisa Dahir, 17, told KUTV.
Anisa and Asma are twin Muslim sisters whose pregnant mother fled to the US in early 90s, from Somalia to refugee camps in Kenya.
Pursuing their dream of becoming pediatric surgeons, the twins are studying at the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers, or JATC, in West Jordan.
They hope they can one day return to Somalia to help.
“We need to embrace our children and grow our youth,” said Asma.
“The youth are the new leaders.”
Asma said that her parents’ experiences “made my siblings and I say, ‘Oh, we need to get an education so we could escape poverty.’”
That is why the Dahirs are taking their education so seriously and want to be doctors.
“It motivated me to make a change in the world to go back to Somalia, or other refugee camps, and help them,” said Anisa.
Along with their study, the girls want to make a difference by supporting refugees.
But these girls want not just to make a difference in the medical field. They also want to make a difference out on the street, making their voices heard in the refugee community.
At just 17, the sisters have joined in several major protests in Salt Lake for refugee rights.
“As a Muslim, female, black refugee, I feel obligated to speak for my rights,” said Anisa. “I feel like it’s crucial to let your voices be heard.”
The twins say people need to be educated about refugees.
“I’ve been treated really bad,” Asma said.
“People are afraid of the unknown and I feel if we speak up, share our voices, people will not have to ignorance that they have today.”
“I’ve been called a terrorist. I’ve had my hijab ripped off. I’ve been bullied. I’ve been harassed so many different ways because of my identity,” Anisa explained.
“It takes a mental and physical toll on me and it’s sad because Utah is my home. I was born and raised here. I don’t know anything else besides Utah and to see that I am not safe in my own home, in my own back yard, it’s just horrifying.”
Education, however, can be the only solution.
“We can create a solid foundation where we can share our narratives and our stories and I feel like that is crucial,” said Asma.