Somalia let's discuss what you do professionally and your involvement with Human Trafficking advocacy.
I always chuckle at the question of “What do you do?” for a number of reasons, but since you asked, I will answer! I have been with the American Chemical Society for about four years now. There, I am apart of a dynamic team that catalyzes and enables the implementation of green chemistry and engineering throughout the global chemical enterprise. As the world’s largest scientific society, there is never a dull moment at the office!
What many people do not know is that I am also an anti-sex trafficking advocate. I have been on the frontlines of the issue for a little over a year now and I’ll have to admit, there are some days when I still ask God to help me to cope with what I see and hear. There is nothing glamorous about “the life” or “the game” as it is called on the streets. I have the humbling privilege of participating in late-night street outreaches spearheaded by Safe House of Hope, Baltimore, MD. Each week, our teams put themselves on the frontline and literally step into the world of trafficked survivors, pimps, and buyers. I have often been asked if I am ever afraid, but really, I am more afraid of not fulfilling my destiny, than worrying about something happening to me on the streets. When you know you are called by God to take action on a specific issue, you move and act on it! I also provide direct one-on-one mentorship to survivors, so there is little to no room for fear, doubt, worry, or distractions.
What truly inspires you?
Being a champion in the lives of others is what inspires me. No matter where I go, I am typically the biggest cheerleader in the room, and I love that about myself! It is always easier to share my Christian faith if first; I have shared my Christian LOVE.
How does your faith play into what you do professionally and how do find balance in your two worlds - personal and professional - while staying aligned with the Father?
Consistency is one of the key elements that have helped me to maintain balance. At this point in my life, what you see is what you get. I am the same funny, outgoing, and passionate person at work that I am at church, at home, etc. This way, I don’t feel like I’m compartmentalizing my entire life because no one has time for that! In addition, my relationship with God is what fuels the professional and personal areas of my life so I have learned if that aspect of my life is in good-standing, it fosters effectiveness across the board.
Please share some advice with others who have interests in what you do and want to get involved with the movement. but don't know where to start.
The advice I would give to others who are interested in anti-human trafficking or specifically anti-sex trafficking work is to start by asking yourself, “How involved in this do I want to be?” A close friend posed that same question to me about a 1 ½ years ago. I immediately responded with, “I want to be on the frontlines,” and today, that is exactly where I am. Knowing where you want to go and what you want to do is the first step in creating your roadmap to get there, so this is important. The last thing you want to do is get caught in the web of being busy but not productive or consistently being in motion, without ever making significant progress. Once you set your goals, begin to network with other volunteers and professionals in the field, myself included. That’s right, hit me up! (lol) As with any professional or personal endeavor, establishing relationships is key. The more you know, the more you know! Lastly, keep in mind there are plethoras of ways to actively participate in the anti-human trafficking movement. I advise those who are interested to conduct research for active organizations within their local community and see what the volunteer needs are. A key piece to remember is that there is something for everyone to do, even if it is simply taking the time to write a care note to a survivor. You would be surprised to see how a survivor responds to receiving words of encouragement from a complete stranger.
Tell me about the challenges you’ve faced, how you've endured and what keeps you going?
The challenges I’ve faced? I will start by saying I don’t know if I will ever forget my first night of street outreach. I was an emotional wreck on the way home. I had watched documentaries, attended multiple conferences and seminars, been through a series of trainings, etc., but actually being on the streets made the existence of domestic sex trafficking a deeper reality. However, I knew I had to reach a point of emotional control in order to be effective. I can handle a lot more now, but as previously mentioned, there are times when I ask God to help me cope with all that I see and hear because it can get pretty heavy at times. I draw strength from God and even talking to a few friends who I know can handle it.
Moving on to some lighthearted frilly stuff - Fashion & Style! Which designers are you a fan of and what are your favorites stores for shopping?
When shopping for clothing is the key word. I’m not a big shopper anymore, and when I do shop, it’s typically for a certain piece. That said, I can usually be found in the isles of Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and NY&Company. Usually, those are my top three go-to’s.
Are there any new trends or concepts in fashion that’s piqued your interest?
I recently attended the 2016 New York Fashion Week with stylist extraordinaire herself, Sybil Street, and fell in love the new patterns, textures, and tailored cuts that are hitting the fashion scene. There is nothing like a nicely tailored jacket, it is a must in every closet and is so versatile!
I have a witty style question that I like asking all you stylish gals of faith, “What’s your Style Innuendo (the way you would like others to consider or view what your style is without you even saying a word when they see you)? How would you describe your overall style – dress, education, personality etc. and how has it evolved from say a few years ago until now?
I want people to see me and think “sophisticated swag,” hands down. Currently, my overall style is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! I’ve discovered a passion for God and for life over the last few years that has been my driving force. In particular, within the last few months, I FINALLY let go of a lot of unnecessary baggage from past hurts. With that came an abundance of freedom. So yeah, if you ask me, I feel like Superwoman.
This blog series is about transforming style from the inside out, therefore, how can one transform their style and faith in a positive progressive manner, and do so without compromise?
Matthew 6:33 is one of my favorite scriptures that states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In order to transform our faith, we have to transform our focus. If we seek and keep God first in all that we do, compromise cannot easily have place in our lives. Yes, it will try, but as women of faith, we have the power inside of us to maintain an absolute “NO” against those things that would taint our walk with God. As that relates to style, I think it is important for people to remember who and what they represent. Remaining current and trendy with style is important and has its place, but not if it means me compromising my character or belief system.
What’s next on the horizon for you, what's the next phase for Somalia?
This is a big question...I love it! I have coined this to be my year of NO MORE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES, so the sun is just rising for me. Most recently, I have been diligently working to launch Restored Voices, Inc., an organization/ministry committed to inspiring and empowering individuals to A) Recognize their identity and voice in Jesus Christ; B) Restore their faith in God; and C) Resound their voice of victory. This gets personal for me because I lived with low self-esteem for years and always felt as though the voice I wanted was locked inside of others.
I used to want to be everyone but myself; support everyone but myself; and love everyone but myself. I can remember trying desperately to fit in with the in-crowd whether I was at school, work, or even at church! And then when I did, there was still a sense of loneliness and disconnect. The so-called friendships, make-believe love, and temporary moments of happiness were all forced and artificial, and I knew it. I recently posted on Instagram, “I always wanted to fit in with the in-crowd, until I realized it was way too crowded. Fit in with God first, and He’ll put you in the right crowd. Freedom is my sound of victory.” I wanted more, and I wanted God. I was tired of masking the feeling of rejection with makeup and a smile. Even MAC can only conceal but so much. The identity I needed wasn’t found in the in-crowd, it was actually embedded in me from the beginning of time. You see, it wasn’t until I developed a heart knowledge of my identity in Christ that things changed. He helped me to recognize my identity, restore my faith, and resound my voice of victory. And now, I am determined to help others do the same! I love people and want to see them experience the love of Jesus. Period.
It is important for me to encourage others to know that they are not voiceless. Like their fingerprint, their voice has always existed and is the only one of its kind. We all hold a God-given greatness that the world needs to hear! Victory has a sound, so, “What’s Your Sound?”
This vision began as two words written in my prayer journal during the summer of 2014, and then again in 2015. I didn’t know what the words meant until now. The vision is still unfolding as I’m consistently reminded of Ephesians 3:20 and to think BIGGER, but this is my year to press forward full steam ahead.
In addition to Restored Voices, Inc. I have been asked to provide Domestic Sex Trafficking 101 training at various conferences and churches, so I’m definitely excited about that. I always look forward to providing education and awareness in addition to encouraging an action response.
Then of course, there is traveling! I have a major travel bug, so I’ll have a few stops to make this year, both domestic and abroad. But most importantly, there will not be any missed opportunities that coincide with the path of destiny that I’m on. I’m determined to work harder, prayer harder, love harder, and live life with no regrets.
To connect with Somalia and to learn more about Restored Voices or to get involved in anti-sex trafficking advocacy, please connect with her:
www.restoredvoices.com (under construction)