Inside the Story: Twin daughters of Somalian refugees on the road to becoming doctors
Seventeen-year-old twin sisters are at the front line of speaking out for refugees.
They are daughters of Somalian refugees and are Muslim.
Asma and Anisa Dahir are also making strides in the medical field–they both have dreams of becoming pediatric surgeons so they can one day return to Somalia to help.
“It’s so sad to see that children — newborns to five or 10 years old — they have so many complications physically and mentally,” said Anisa.
The twins are studying at the Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers, or JATC, in West Jordan.
“We need to embrace our children and grow our youth,” said Asma. “The youth are the new leaders.”
Back in the early ’90s, the girl’s parents fled the war-torn country of Somalia and ended up in a refugee camp in Kenya.
Their mother came to America first, by herself, while pregnant with the twins. She worked several jobs to try and keep food on the table.
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.
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.”
The best way the twins know how to fight the battle is through education, so that one day other refugees can look to them for leadership.
“We can create a solid foundation where we can share our narratives and our stories and I feel like that is crucial,” said Asma.
The sisters are not alone in their dreams of a better education. All their siblings are also hoping to go into the medical field.
They also hope to one day create a nonprofit organization to help kids from third world countries.