Three artists from San Diego, Haadi and Fahad Mohamed, along with Yaqub Hussein, met with local children to paint the mural at a shopping complex on 51st Street and McDowell Road.
Monday April 1, 2019
By BrieAnna J Frank and Perry Vandell
From left, San Diego artists Yaqub Hussein and Haadi Mohamed work on a mural in Phoenix, Ariz. on March 31, 2019. Anya Magnuson/The Republic
A community of Somali refugees spent the weekend memorializing the importance of women by designing and painting a mural that faces a row of businesses owned by Somali-Americans in Phoenix.
The blue and orange mural depicts three children and their mother, who has beams of light radiating from her. The theme of the mural, according to Haadi Mohamed, is "the key to paradise is under your mother's feet."
He says the quote symbolizes the importance of women in Islam, the dominant religion in Somalia, but that he hopes everyone can appreciate the mural.
"Whether you're a believer of Islam or whether you're not a believer, it's a message that I believe everyone can relate to and understand and respect and love," he said.
Mohamed said the mural is also a tribute to his own mother, who along with his father, left Somalia and resettled in the United States.
Hussein, painting alongside Mohamed Sunday afternoon, echoed his sentiments, adding that the mural shows the strength and power of Somali women.
The event was hosted by the Somali Association of Arizona, a non-profit founded in 1992 to advocate for refugees fleeing from a civil war that erupted in the African country in 1991. Since then, more than 7,000 Somali refugees have resettled in Arizona, the association said.
at the Somali Association of Arizona community center react to a
slideshow of photos that the San Diego artists put together as
inspiration for their mural in Phoenix, Ariz. on March 31, 2019. Anya
The non-profit provides social services ranging from English classes to housing programs, noting that many refugees have an easier time acclimating to their new life when they work with others intimately familiar with Somali culture.
The south-facing mural is located on the side of a business on the northwest corner of 51st Street and McDowell Road.
"She's (a Somali woman) always so vibrant and caring and loving, just being the head of the household and always keeping things in order and together," he said. "At the same time, having that time to love her children and be there for them always."
Hussein's parents are Somali refugees, and both he and Mohamed worked on a previous mural in San Diego in honor of the Somali community.
at the Somali Association of Arizona community center reach out to
Yaqub Hussein, center, and Haadi Mohamed, right, who came from San Diego
to paint a mural in Phoenix, Ariz. on March 31, 2019. (Photo: Anya
Uniting local community
Painting murals is something that 18-year-old Faisa Ahmed, who assisted with the project, wants to pursue further.
Ahmed said projects like the mural painting unite the local Somali community, and could perhaps give them a sense of peace in a tumultuous time for Muslims given political division and Islamophobic attacks such as the one seen earlier this month in Christchurch, New Zealand.
She also hopes this particular piece will encourage people to reflect on their relationship with their mothers.
"A lot of us tend to disconnect to our moms or dads when we become teenagers," she said. "When they (passersby) see this painting, they'll say 'that is so true,' and they'll become closer to their mom and really be thankful for the fact that they have a mother."
Ahmed said people whose mothers have died can use the experience to reflect on their memories with them.
She said working on the mural prompted her to call her mother to tell her she loves her, and that she hopes other people react to the artwork in the same way.