The Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN), and Art of Humanity are helping to launch Hani Abdile’s first collection of prose and poetry, I Will Rise. Hani has just finished launching her book in Hobart and Melbourne, and she is heading to Perth to continue launching her book, and we are fortunate to have her.
Hani defines herself “as a child of Africa, woman of Australia and lover of life.” She was born in a small village in southern Somalia, growing up in the city of Kismaayo. One of fourteen, half of whom were born during the civil war in Somalia, so as a teenager she fled the violence in Somalia making the desperate voyage by boat to Australia.
“People ask me why do I write? What they don’t know is that I wasn’t a writer or a poet until moments of suffering made me a writer” states Hani
Hani started writing in 2013 whilst incarcerated in immigration detention on Christmas Island. Over those three years she learned how to read and write in English, wrote her collection I Will Rise, completed two years of schooling. She also became a regular and celebrated spoken word poet in the Sydney scene, and has inspired and guided many other writers in similar situations to herself.
“I was sitting in a place where there was only a fence and hapless humans. My pen and paper were bright flashes that lit up my steps. I had no hope other than writing poetry and turning what I wrote into reality. When others dictate everything else in your life, writing becomes enjoyable. It is not forced. It is a weapon against stress and despair.
“For me it was a way of healing and relief. At first, it was just a personal thing that I didn’t want to share with anyone because I was afraid of people discovering my weakness. One day when my eyes were bleeding tears and pain was knocking me away, everything I was feeling came out on the table. I posted a poem on Facebook called Freedom for Education and a remarkable human being sent me a message saying ‘are you a poet?’ I didn’t understand the meaning of the word poet so I looked it up. I answered no but Janet didn’t give up on me. We started working together. I kept writing.
“I joined Writing Through Fences. It was amazing how welcome I felt there. We all come from different races and religions. I started to rise and build my talent. I was no longer afraid of my weakness because in Writing Through Fences we had something in common. Everyone was going through hardships of life in different ways and writing the pain was our secret doctor. Now these people are not only fellow members but my family and everlasting friends. I Will Rise shows my development as a writer. It means a lot to me and the people who are by my side through this journey.”
Hani Abdile is now an honorary member of PEN, a lead writer for Writing Through Fences, whilst also receiving various awards for her community work and many achievements since being released from immigration detention.