ST. CLOUD, Minnesota — The 21-year-old Somali-American supermodel Halima Aden took the runway by storm after modeling in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant in a hijab and burkini. Today, the supermodel has turned super activist. Supermodel Halima Aden helps refugee children by embodying the change she wants to see in the world as a UNICEF Ambassador.
Four Ways Supermodel Halima Aden Helps Refugee Children
- Representation: Halima Aden was born in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled the civil war in Somalia. She has a personal connection with the struggles refugee children face. After staying in the Kakuma refugee camp for seven years, they traveled to the United States. As a native Somali and Swahili speaker, transitioning to an American lifestyle proved to be difficult for Aden. Aden reflected on her experiences as the only Muslim student in an interview for DreamRefugee.org. She shared, “I didn’t see representation of anyone like me. At times, I wondered if I could really have both cultures; I was so unsure of my identity.” Aden’s rise to fashion stardom has allowed her to show refugee children that they can embrace their multicultural identities.
- UNICEF-NextGen: Halima Aden’s initial involvement with UNICEF began in 2017 when she traveled to Mexico with UNICEF Next Generation (NextGen). This subgroup of young leaders within UNICEF partner on various projects to help improve living conditions for children all over the world. In 2017, an estimated 38,495 children were stopped at the U.S./Mexico border. She also visited a UNICEF healthcare center to assist with children recovering from injuries from the recent earthquakes. Aden also traveled to the border of Guatemala to support refugee and migrant children. Empathizing with the instability of refugee life, Aden went the extra mile to personally connect with migrant children at the shelters in Guatemala through learning activities and games.
- TEDX: Halima Aden returned to the Kakuma Refugee camp to give a TEDX speech. As the first person from a refugee camp to ever to give a TEDX speech, Supermodel Halima Aden helps refugee children by inspiring them to thrive to their full potential. In the same camp where she was born, Aden relished in the sense of community she experienced in Kakuma. She attested that the refugee camp as a foundation of hope for any child’s future. Aden highlighted the value of a home for refugee children and demonstrated that one should never be ashamed of where they come from.
- UNICEF Ambassador: Halima Aden made an official commitment to fight for refugee children by fulfilling the role of a UNICEF Ambassador. As a UNICEF Ambassador, Aden increases awareness of the plight of children who have been displaced by conflicts. An estimated 30 million children around the world are refugees that are missing out on an education while trying to find a secure environment to call home. Recently, Aden traveled to Italy to meet with eight refugees. The young women she met with traveled to Italy from Libya to escape the civil war. Most of the minors crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy are ages 16-17. More than 70,000 minors have arrived unaccompanied since 2014. Aden’s continued efforts ensure that minors like these girls are protected from exploitation and violation while also urging lawmakers to tackle the causes of violence forcing children to flee.
Supermodel Halima Aden helps refugee children by being the ultimate example of what they can accomplish. Her dedication to providing refugee children with the tools to enjoy a long, prosperous life makes her an inspiring role model.
– Nia Coleman