Story 51 – Fatima Elmi
“My mother is my role model. She’s a very strong woman. She still tells me off every morning. And now, if I don’t answer my phone because it’s on silent, she knows which number, she knows which day I’m working in the hospital and she knows which day I’m working in the day care, and she calls that number. She doesn’t read, she doesn’t write.
One time, my daughter’s friend was at our place for lunch. She went and gave him all this advice about his weight, about his hair, and we’re sitting there sweating, and I’m like ‘Ok Mum, we have to go.’ And she said, ‘No, we have to tell him ‘he’s too skinny, the wind will take him, he needs to eat and be fat.’ Later, she said, ‘Of all the people in the world, why did she have to choose him?’ I said, ‘Mum, they’re just friends. And she said, ‘Yes, but friendship leads to marriage.’”
When we were in Brisbane, we were lucky enough to meet Fatima, a well known figure in the Somalian community. Fatima had generously prepared a delicious Somalian meal of rice (2 kilograms worth!) and a lamb curry. As we ate, we heard Fatima’s funny stories about the intersection between Somalian and Australian cultures. While she is of Somalian background, Fatima has never actually set foot in Somalia. She spent her childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya, before being accepted into New Zealand in 1994, at the age of 19. Fatima had her first child at the age of 19, and says that she was considered quite old by typical standards at the time. She now has three children (2 girls and a boy). The family moved to Brisbane in 2009, where Fatima works as a nurse. As well as English, Fatima also speaks Swahili and Somalian languages. - 3 days ago