A recap from Stories of soulful women: Journey Home
If you missed out on our Journey Home event in Pier 47, Copenhagen, today you can catch up on what we got up to! We’re so excited to share some highlights of our special day, where four successful women shared their life experiences, and over 70 guests joined to hear about their profound journeys home.
What is home to you? Do you know what it takes to build a home in a place that is not yours? What can we do to empower each other to spread our wings in the place we all want to call home?
On October 6th, The Soulfuls team held an event which spread awareness on the experiences of refugee women and what it means to feel ‘home’. It was one of the most intimate, emotional events we have held to date. The stories and the conversation provoked thoughts and feelings that have imprinted in our minds and our hearts, it was everything we hoped it would be. We greeted our guests with mouthwatering Cravings cupcakes, refreshing LemonAID and delicious bites from Vibens Fiskehus, and gifted our speakers with Kinz Kanaan Jewellery, all at Pier 47 a trendy location in Østerbro. We were privileged to have had three powerful guest speakers, and a room full of diverse, beautiful and soulful women to join us for Journey Home.
The event began with a heartfelt welcome note by the founder of The Soulfuls, Aram Ostadian-Binai. Aram spoke about her own personal experiences of being a refugee as a young girl, and she left a lasting impression among everyone in the room. Aram came to Copenhagen at a young age, no longer knowing where home was. She longed to spread her wings and fly, to find her place and no longer feel like a guest everywhere she went. “When a woman feels home and welcomed, she will grow brave, spread her wings and add value wherever she goes.”
It took her a long time to find her place in Copenhagen but when she did, that’s what made all the difference. She started The Soulfuls and has dedicated herself to spreading awareness on topics that society needs to know about. The more we understand what’s going on in the world the more we can learn how to make a difference, no matter how big or small. Despite the challenging road she faced, she grew strong and is working to make a difference in today’s world and for the future. Aram’s welcome note was heartfelt and this was the feeling that was carried throughout the day as each speaker stood up to share their profound story.
Mina was really happy to join us, she expressed how she “couldn’t say no to The Soulfuls” and that she “loves speaking in front of women”. We felt honoured to have her with us, she has and is accomplishing so much she has even been named one of the most influential people under 30 by Forbes in 2018. Mina is the founder of Women Refugee Route, an NGO working to change the system of decision making in migration policies by including refugee women in the process. On Oct 6th, she talked about becoming a feminist because of her mum. Mina and her mum not only experienced life as refugees, they also suffered from domestic violence at home from her father. This is primarily what drove her to dedicate herself to work on refugee’s and on women’s rights issues. Mina has an incredibly strong character and takes pride in speaking out on behalf of women who have no voice.
“I will continue claiming my seat at the table for giving women a voice.”
She’s passionate about more women being in the limelight and sharing experiences from a refugee woman’s perspective. She wants society to know about all the challenges women face, just because they are women. The way they are too afraid to go outside, for fear of being raped by countless men. Mina is determined to keep spreading awareness and encouraging people to speak up about gender based violence, to make the world a better place for so many women. Mina left us with a powerful message, we look up to her with great admiration.
Sahar flew over from London to be with us, we were delighted she could take the time out of her busy schedule as it wouldn’t have been the same without her! Sahar is a woman with great energy and is incredibly passionate about her work. She is a young British/Iranian BBC presenter and journalist who specialises in bringing untold stories to surface. Sahar has investigated some of the worlds most hostile environments in countries like Afghanistan, Nepal and Syria. “I do whatever it takes to tell the stories that need to be told.”
As a young girl Sahar had to flee from her home to seek refuge and spent one year being smuggled with her family from place to place, scared and hungry. She was arrested many times and stuck in suicide attacks, on top of all of this she dealt with a father who was abusive and suffered from depression. “We don’t have a choice in what happens to us. One thing we can control is what we do with it. We have to take what happened to us and turn it into something else.” Sahar spent much of her life feeling as though she had no voice and she hated feeling invisible - now she has committed her life to listening to other people’s stories and making sure the world hears them. “If everyone took the time to hear each other out the world would be a different place.”
Sahar is making a difference in today’s society with her courageous work and she is truly inspiring many people. The advice she gave is to never be a victim, but to step up and to do something about it. She hopes that one day everybody finds a way to channel their pain towards making changes, so that together we can create better conditions for (wo)mankind.
Last but not least we had Mozhdeh in the spotlight, Mozhdeh is a child psychologist who works to improve the treatments of refugees. She spoke about having similar feelings as both Mina and Sahar, about not having a voice. She experienced real grief; fleeing for the first 16 years of her life, seeing her mother being shot, and feeling like no one acknowledged her. Mozhdeh felt displaced and as a young girl she craved to find a place to call home. “I learnt at a young age you can dream as much as you want, but horrible things can happen around you and those dreams are crushed.” Mozhdeh developed coping strategies in order to survive, she didn’t have a choice but to carry on. So she did. Home, for Mozhdeh, is being with the people she loves. When she feels welcomed and loved that’s when she feels at her best. She beliefs every child should know what that feels like and has dedicated her life to the cause. “I want all kids to have a dreams and to feel safe.”
Panel Discussion & Closing
This part of the event featured our guest speakers all together and was moderated by Aram. We learnt about the women’s view of integrating into a new place, how it feels to be a newcommer, and the importance of making guests feel welcome. Aram talked about how “as a refugee the people you’ve befriended become your family” and that none of us have anything to feel ashamed of by talking about it openly. We had some interesting questions from the audience. The women agreed, that at end of the day, we are all human, if we want to understand we simply need to sit down with people, to talk and ask questions, as we would with anyone. Mozhdeh added that “when you meet people from different cultures you have to remember they are as nervous as you”.
After these deep discussion our guests happily enjoyed some warm food kindly provided by Viben Fiskehuset, while chatting about all the stories that had been shared throughout the day. There was a new warmth and understanding among everyone who had been there to experience the occasion with us, that we are all in this together. One of our guests expressed how much everything she learned had had an impact on her, she said she was leaving that day with the feeling that “it doesn’t matter if you are vulnerable, you can still be powerful”.
We want to send out a HUGE thanks you to ALL of our guest speakers, sponsors and volunteers, this day would not have been the same without you. The Soulfuls team is thankful for the compassion and positive vibes brought by all the wonderful women who attended, donated and expressed interest in our cause.
“Everywhere you go, meet people, and be somebody’s angel”.
Written by N.A. A Girl Who is HER!
& Photos by Constanze Neubert