Waris Dirie was born in 1965 into a nomadic family in Galkayo, Somalia. She has been a voice fighting for the elimination of female mutilation for the past 15 years. Her own traumatic experience allowed her to tell a story familiar to many women in Africa and ultimately led her to activism.
Waris Dirie was brutally mutilated at a very young age in Somalia. By the time she was 13 her family had promised her hand in marriage to a man old enough to be her grandfather. She fled her home to avoid the arranged marriage. Her escape led her through the desert to Mogadishu and eventually to London. The journey left her scarred, weak, and hungry.
Waris lived with family in London. She had no education, but she found work as a housemaid and also at a fast food restaurant. Later, she was able to find the time to take classes to learn to read and write English.
At 18 she was discovered while working at McDonalds by one of Britain's leading fashion photographers - Terrence Donovan. Her modeling career was ignited internationally. This ultimately led to her on-screen debut in a James Bond epic, The Living Daylights, starring Timothy Dalton.
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