Waris Dirie, the Somalia nomad who became a supermodel, and an anti-FGM activist, first came to the world’s attention with the publication of her autobiography, Desert Flower. The book was subsequently made into a film and little Safa Nour, from one of the slums of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, was chosen to play the young Waris.
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. Waris brings them to Paris and to Vienna, they learn about the foundation and Safa’s father finally comes round to the idea of working for the foundation as well.
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