From a Kenyan Refugee Camp to a Revered Global Figure

  • Rawdah Mohamed Editor Vogue Scandinavia
    Rawdah Mohamed Editor Vogue Scandinavia
    Hiiraan Online
  • Rawdah Mohamed, a Somali-Norwegian model and now the editor of the Vogue Scandinavia spent her early life in a refugee camp in Kenya.

    Mohamed, who is the first hijab-wearing editor of color at a fashion magazine in the West, spent her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp with her ten brothers. She found herself in the refuge camp following the civil war in Somalia.

    The 29-year-old model who is known for her street style fashion recalls living in a refugee camp in a one-room tent with an outside toilet and cooking over an open fire.

    Rawdah Mohamed Editor Vogue Scandinavia
    Rawdah Mohamed Editor Vogue Scandinavia
    The Guardian

    At the camp, she was scared by men with guns but she devised her own means to survive.

    "In the refugee camp, the thing that was scary was the men with guns, but you learned how to manoeuvre around these dangerous people," Mohamed told New York Times.

    One of Mohamed's biggest highlights at the camp was the Eid festival where she was allowed to buy one dress which she could move from tent to tent showing it off.

    “I was obsessed by that dress. I would go around the tents and show it off,” she says. “Fashion’s always helped me out of bad situations I’ve been in.”

    From a refuge camp in Kenya, her family was granted asylum in Norway in a town of only 2,000 people, many of whom resented refugees. She was eight at that time.

    In Norway, Rawdah stated her life was not any better as they were hurt by people they considered as neighbors.

    "But in Norway the people that were harming us were our neighbors, and it was much scarier because they were not in uniform," she recalled.

    Mohammed came into the limelight when the French government revealed it was considering banning the hijab for women under 18. Her response that went viral was a selfie with “Hands off my hijab” written on her upheld palm. 

    She started a campaign that trended on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. "We can participate in the conversation, take part in decision-making processes, and are able to have an influential voice in fashion."

    Her campaign catapulted her to greater heights till she got an appointment with Vogue. Announcing her role, the model stated she hopes to have a ripple effect on her community.

    "It has a huge impact on Muslims, and I see this as a collective achievement to better understanding the world of fashion," she said.

    But her breakthrough in the Fashion industry was not easy. She once gave up on fashion to pursue a career in mental health.

    But then Mohamed began posting her outfits on Instagram, and as her following grew, she was asked to collaborate with brands and was signed by a model agency.

    Right now she is Vogue editor for Scandinavia joining the likes of Minnesota Senate Representative Ilhan Omar who grew up in the Dadaab refugee camp.

    Rawdah Mohamed Editor Vogue Scandinavia
    Rawdah Mohamed Editor Vogue Scandinavia
    Hiiraan Online
    gun fire.