Aaminah Abdi, a young bubbly Somali woman, welcomed me to her home as she and her family were preparing for a wedding, painting henna tattoos. Because her parents had to flee Somalia, she was born in Kenya, where she moved from camp to camp, and has vivid memories of hyenas lurking at the gates of one of the camps! Aaminah is a language wiz, speaking English, Maimai (her mother tongue), Swahili, some Bantu, and even Spanish which she learned when she moved to Colorado as a teenager.
She’s been in Vermont for over five years and enjoys creating dresses for special occasions whenever she finds time between work and her studies.
What follows is a loose transcript of a conversation I had with Aaminah recently.
When did you start sewing and designing?
A really old white lady who used to come to our house all the time and she gave me a sewing machine and showed me all the basics. I also took a sewing class in high school in Colorado but it was really basic.
Then I made a wedding gown for one of my sisters, and relatives and friends started asking me.
How are you getting ready for Karibu?
I’m trying to design everything based on my culture, but modern, the way modern Muslim people would dress.
My twin sister will be my model; she’s tall and skinnier! I had some ideas, did some drawings, started sewing and had to make some changes to make sure that everything fits her perfectly. Of course, I had ideas, but then I kept changing my mind!