PORTLAND — Two local 2017 Empower the Immigrant Woman Conference Trailblazer Award recipients will be honored at the second annual Empower the Immigrant Woman Conference scheduled for Saturday, March 18, at an evening gala at Congregation Bet Ha’am.

Fowsia Musse was born in Mogadishu, Somali. She and her family fled to Ethiopia as clan conflicts and famine sent Somalia into chaos. The family spent four years in a refugee camp, before immigrating to the U.S., first living in San Diego, then Atlanta. Fowsia, her husband and their children moved to Maine in 2003. Fowsia has worked in the field of health as a cultural broker, medical interpreter and community health outreach worker.

She has contributed to Lewiston, advocating for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and family crisis; empowering immigrant women and children; and working to enact culturally appropriate mental health care for Somali youth.

A member of the Lewiston City Council’s Immigrant and Refugee Integration and Policy Development Working Group, Fowsia provides insight that is thoughtful and honest and she possesses a sense of humor described as second to none.

Parivash Rohani, born in Iran, witnessed her family’s home burned to the ground just before the 1979 Iranian Revolution because they were of the Baha’i religious minority. Fearful of what might come, Parivash, 18, was sent to India by her parents. She arrived in the U.S., a refugee, in 1985, first living in California, then moved to Auburn.

Her work in Lewiston, Auburn and Portland with women’s groups and interfaith organizations has increased tolerance and understanding in the community. In 2003, rancor directed at the Somali community emboldened a neo-Nazi group to come to Maine. Parivash was an organizer of a countering rally, “Many and One,” which brought thousands together to focus on acceptance and coexistence in a way that hadn’t happened before.

As a board member of Welcoming Maine, which seeks to improve social integration between new and native Mainers, and as a key organizer of Portland’s World Refugee Day, Parivash’s advocacy is unbounded. Despite her fear, Parivash returned to Iran for the first time in the past few years, determined to be a voice for those she left behind. She has become a strong proponent for the international movement, “Education is Not a Crime.”

FMI: www.empowerimmigrantwomanme.com.

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