Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Entertainment: Model Liya Kebede Stars in the Film "Desert Flower", Inpsired by the Life of Waris Dirie

Ethiopian-born model and activist Liya Kebede portrays Somali supermodel and human rights advocate Waris Dirie in the film Desert Flower (adapted from the book by the same name). An autobiographical novel written by Waris Dirie and author Cathleen Miller, Desert Flower the film (directed by Sherry Horman and originally released in Germany, 2009) brings to life the harrowing tale and trialed journey of a young Somali girl, escaping the perils of her native soil. Hailing from neighboring countries, Liya Kebede proved to be an ideal candidate in portraying fellow model Waris Dirie; with each woman's life, in many ways, paralleling the other. Dirie's story is an intimate account of a persevering spirit, despite an early life of servitude, economic oppression and physical abuse. She is a survivor, not a victim, of female genital circumcision (an act of violence against women practiced worldwide) and Somali refugee. Dirie's inspirational journey of hardship, belonging and self-discovery make the film adaptation of Desert Flower a riveting narrative of humanity.

Kebede does an outstanding job at invoking that same spirit of fortitude and determination - not only to survive, but to succeed and give back. With equally successful careers in modeling, Kebede and Dirie have become models for life and humanitarianism. Kebede founded her organization, the Liya Kebede Foundation in 2005, dedicated to providing women, mothers and children worldwide and in African regions medical and economic support. Kebede is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organization's Maternal, Newborn and Child Health project. Dirie, a longtime human rights activist and philanthropist, established the Desert Flower Foundation in 2002 raising awareness and speaking out against female genital circumcision. Dirie also heads the Desert Dawn Foundation, an organization committed to funding local Somali schools and health centers.

Watch the trailer for Desert Flower below, released last month (March 18th) in the U.S. to select theaters.

Find out more about these foundations, FGM/FGC, Desert Flower (both the film and novel) and how you can get involved in humanitarian work below.

Desert Flower - Official Movie Website

Desert Flower Foundation - Official Website

Desert Flower - Harper Collins Publishers

Liya Kebede Foundation - Official Website

World Health Organization - Official Website (FGM/FGC)

UNICEF - Official Website (FGM/FGC)

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