Episode
August 4, 2011

Alek Wek: Refugee to supermodel

The Stream is joined by Alek Wek, a Sudanese-British model who is also an advocate for refugees.
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Alek Wek is a Sudanese-British model who walked out of violence in southern Sudan when she was just a child and walked onto runways in the global fashion world. Thanks to her experiences as a refugee she's dedicated much of her time to addressing the issues of refugees. "Being in fashion, it's given me a voice to be able to raise awareness of important issues and of course, refugees have always been dear to my heart," she explained.
In recognition of her work she was approached by the United Nations Human Rights Commission to deliver the keynote address to their annual Refugee Congress. "I've always vowed to try and shed light on other refugees…that weren't as blessed as I was," she explained.
On The Stream, Wek told us about her personal story as a refugee in southern Sudan. "When the civil war was going on I was about 8-9 years old I ended up fleeing the country to go seek refuge in London when I was 14…. When you have to literally leave your home with nothing, just whatever you can carry and just thousands of you and your neighbours…as a young person you have no idea and you're really quite upset. Why are you getting forced to leave your own home? And having absolutely nothing, just eating whatever you can find in the way, that was really tough to understand."
Via Twitter, user @RuwaydaMustafa asked if Alek was a feminist, adding, "I'd like to know the situation of women who are refugees, their struggles & how they can be helped." Alex responded, "I'm not a feminist I think, not at all. I came from nine brothers and sisters, I grew up to share, to be a part of the team. To not just take and take but also give back… Shine the torch on the next person just like it's been shined on you… My mother always said, what makes you beautiful as a woman is the woman you are and you must celebrate other women."
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