Waris was born into a traditional Somali family, desert nomads who engaged in such ancient and antiquated customs as genital mutilation and arranged marriage. At twelve, she fled an arranged marriage to an old man and traveled alone across the dangerous Somali desert to Mogadishu -- the first leg of an emotional journey that would take her to London as a house servant, around the world as a fashion model, and eventually to America, where she would find peace in motherhood and humanitarian work for the U.N.
Today, as Special Ambassador for the U.N., she travels the world speaking out against the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, promoting women's reproductive rights, and educating people about the Africa she fled -- but still deeply loves.
Desert Flower will be published simultaneously in eleven languages throughout the world and is currently being produced as a feature film by Rocket Pictures UK.
The book and the film record many extraordinary things - from facing down a tiger, to being discovered by a famous photographer in London - but it also tells the grim story of female circumcision, an ordeal that the young Waris had to endure.
Saving Safa opens with a letter from Safa, now aged seven, who explains that she is worried that she will undergo FGM in spite of the contract her parents have signed with Dirie's Desert Flower Foundation stating that they will never have their daughter cut. Waris drops everything and flies to Djibouti where she meets Safa's father and mother who thinks her daughter should be cut to stop the community ostracising them.
As Safa was saved from FGM through a contract with her parents, the Foundation believes a thousand other girls can be saved through providing their families with aid in return for a promise not to mutilate their daughters