Speech: I have a dream - They Are Us (2019)

24-03-2019 10:35 pm

This is my speech when we had a vigil at the 22-July monument in Drammen for the victims of the terrorist attacks in New Zealand.

When I was asked by my mum to say a few words, we had just received shattering news that a family member of our extended whanau had passed away.

We grow up learning that death is a part of life. If we are fortunate, most of us will live until we are retired – hopefully living a full and happy life. But sadly, not everyone is fortunate.

400 meters from where we are standing, is my sister Sharidyns grave. She was only 14 years old. 8 years ago, her life was brutally taken from her. We know better than most how absolutely terrible humans can be towards each other. One man decided my sisters fate. He took from Sharidyn, her right to live. NO ONE – ABSOLUTELY NO ONE has that right.

They are us.

We are gathered at this monument because this monument is a reminder of the the darkest day in not only mine and my family’s life but also Norway’s history. We stand here to remember the 77 victims of terrorism after the 22nd of July terrorist attacks.

They are us.

On the other side of the world – home to many of you including my mum and older sister are 50 kiwi families whom are grieving the brutal loss of their loved ones. 48 other people are either still fighting for their lives, or recovering from their injuries.

They are us.

What I wish for the future seems like a “dream”. To quote the great “Martin Luther King” – who wished for himself and the future, a better life said: "I have a dream".

I too, have a dream.

I have a dream - that we accept our differences and find harmony in what makes us all the same. We are one race – the human race.

I have a dream.

I have a dream - that people are more compassionate, are more generous, and more kinder to each other.

I have a dream - that the victims of terrorism in New Zealand will one day find peace in their grief.

I have a dream - that we NEVER forget their NAMES, their FACES, their STORIES – because that is how we will teach future generations that: “Terrorism has NO place in our future, and we will fight terrorisms hateful existence – we will fight extremisme with compassion, we will fight terrorism with kindness, we will fight with our humanity".

#TheyAreUs

In remembrance of the victims of terrorism in New Zealand. ❤

Kia kaha New Zealand

For the victims and their families of the muslim faith, I chose to wear today a head covering/scarf together with my Māori korowai (cloak) as a sign of my deepest respect for the families, because it is important to me to remind people that we are one race - the human race.

Me at the 22-July monument in Drammen (2019) Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

22-July monument in Drammen (2019) Photo Credit: O.R Bøhn

Crying "kiwi" (2019) Photo Credit: Shaun Yeo

Speech: The World We Live In (2016)

16-03-2019 07:13 am

This was my year 7 entry for the Mount Maunganui Intermediate speech competition in 2016.

On Friday the 22nd of July 2011, my world as I knew it was forever changed. One man decided and planned many years before I was born, to change my sister's fate. He decided that his ideas and beliefs were more important than my sisters. My older sister, Sharidyn was brutally murdered by a terrorist. Sharidyn was shot twice in the back while she was running to save her own life, and was left to die an agonising death. Sharidyn was the youngest of 77 people mainly children like us murdered in one of the world's most heinous acts of terrorism in modern times, since the 2nd World War. Sharidyn was killed 5 days after her 14th birthday. My speech is in part about my sister and my personal experience but my speech will ultimately cover "how terrorism affects world we live in today".

Terrorism has been in existence for a very long time, and is a major problem facing the world we live in today. Some would say that there are examples of acts of terrorism as far back as ancient times. And yet experts, governments and world agencies find it not only difficult to define exactly what terrorism is but also to agree on an international definition. Simply put, terrorism is the systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal. There are many forms of terrorism. The list is as long as the many reasons for why terrorism threatens the way we live. The most common form of terrorism is motivated by political reasons. Groups or factions of organisations owe their allegiance to political or religious beliefs that are even too complicated for most adults to understand. The world is today witnessing an increase in terrorist activities.

It may feel like every time our parents turn on the news, another terrorist attack has happened somewhere in the world. Two days ago, New York was the victim yet again of another terrorist attack. You may be thinking that terrorism doesn't affect us here in New Zealand. Why should I care? We are safe in our country. It will never happen to us here. In my perfect world, it won't. But terrorism isn't someone else's problem or tragedy.

Terrorism affects us all, even in New Zealand. Terrorism affects children like us, displaces families and communities, destroys cities, countries, and historical monuments we learn about and maybe dream about visiting. Imagine being told that we could no longer live in Mount Maunganui because of our beliefs. You may even know someone that has had to leave their home, the city they grew up in or their native country. They may even have lost a family member or a friend.

Terrorism and extreme violence attacks the very heart of what keeps us safe and our right to be safe. Terrorism has no borders, no laws, or democratic principles they obey. Regardless of the reasons, who they are or where they are from - terrorists have no respect for human life and by choice, choose to defy the laws that govern the way we live. They think that their view is the right one, and as ridiculous as it sounds believe that force by violence is their human right. Terrorists do not discriminate against their victims. Terrorists choose to use extreme forms of violence and terror to achieve their goals, and will not hesitate in committing mass murder of innocent people like my sister and her friends, kidnapping, hijacking planes and creating terror in any way possible. Their aim is to scare, hurt, and kill as many people as they can. Terrorists don't care who the victims and their families are. They don't care what they destroy.

But we should. The more we know about what terrorism and extreme violence is, the more our generation can stop the cycle of future terrorists destroying families and communities where we live. A very wise man named Mahatma Ghandi, believed in the ideal that "We should be the change we want to see in the world". He believed that we mirror the world, the future - we choose for ourselves. Our generation has the power, and responsibility to fiercely protect our right to live, our right to love whom we want, our right to religious freedom, our right to freedom of speech and our right to believe in what we want. But we have a greater responsibility of being kind to one another. To accept and respect other's opinions, religious beliefs and cultures, which are different to our own.

My family and I are survivors of a brutal act of terrorism. My world is different that the one I lived in with my sister and it is sadder place without her in it. But I am my sister's advocate and keeper of the memories I shared with Sharidyn. I was blessed to have a sister that was beautiful on the outside as she was in her heart. Sharidyn was extremely kind and her acts of kindness, her sense of humour and unique ability to see the "invisible" others ignored is all part of her legacy that she left us with. I honour my sister's memory and victims of terrorism like my sister by shouting from the rooftops to strangers, reminding friends and even family that my sister's life mattered and she deserves to be remembered.

In conclusion, terrorism may scare us, it may harm us, and it may even take someone we love from us, but let's agree that terrorism has no place in our future. The world we live in is the world we choose to design for ourselves. We are the generation that can make a difference, and choose that violence in any form, no matter the reason, has no place in the world we live in.

The world we live in belongs to us all. What world do you want to live in?

In loving of my sister, Sharidyn ❤

Speech: The World We Live In (2016)

This is my speech from 2016 while I was a year 7 student (12 years old) at Mount Maunganui Intermediate (NZ), which I was practising at home. I was a little nervous since it was my first public speech ever - and in a language that was not my mother tongue. Video Credit: V.Svebakk

Photo Illustration (2019) Photo Credit: Unknown

My tears

15-03-2019 10:05 pm

While I lay asleep in my bed in Norway, on the other side of the world a white man originally from Australia went on a shooting rampage killing more than 50 innocent people, and injuring 48 more innocents. What were they doing - they were praying. 💔❤

Cuddled into our parents this evening, my sister and I sought comfort the only place we know feels safe all year round. Our little peaceful island nation is now suffering the terrible and cruel effects of terrorism. I normally know what I am going to write - but today I have struggled. Today my heart hurts. Children are among the victims again! When does it ever stop? Why do people - like this white supremacist think his life is more important then the people he killed?

The victims were killed because of their Muslim faith - because they were different. The world will never change if the only colour of our skin - has to be white, or our religion - has to be christian. We are one race - the HUMAN RACE!

My sister, Sharidyn was born in New Zealand and killed on the island of Utøya in Norway by another white supremacist. For 8 years I have grown up knowing that he breathes the air that he denied my sister. He didn't care who he killed, nor was he remorseful. His only regret was that he didn't kill more people. 77 innocent people, mainly children - Sharidyn the youngest of his victims. What was Sharidyn doing when he murdered her -  She was having fun with her friend. 💔❤

I can't stop thinking about the victims and their families - and my big sister. This is a terrible day for New Zealand, but also for the world. When will the world wake up and fight back against extremisme - the ridiculous ideologies that are killing our loved ones? Please New Zealand - don't forget about the victims. Don't give the murderer in New Zealand your time - that's what he wants. To inspire more deranged people like him and the Norwegian who killed my sister.

Today my tears are for my big sister, the victims and families, and the country that Sharidyn loved, New Zealand. 💔💔❤

In loving memory.❤

Remembering the victims of terrorist attack in Christchurch (2019) Photo Credit: Unknown