"How to Bloom in Dark Places” by Warsan Shire

This reading is used in the Teaching Idea Brave Girl Rising: A Refugee Story.

The film Brave Girl Rising tells the story of Nasro, a Somali-born girl living in a refugee camp in Kenya, through Warsan Shire’s poetry. The following is an excerpted version of the poem “How to Bloom in Dark Places” from the film’s script.

How many arms do I need to grow to
fight off what scares me?
How many legs to leave?
How many dreams until mother tells
me how to escape this place?
Mother has given me a message.
I must tell the girls, so they can
memorise it too.
If I ever forget, they will remind

I read to them the words as my mother said them.
We pledge allegiance to our bodies,
We pledge allegiance to fortifying our
We pledge allegiance to water,
to it’s dutiful scarcity,
we do not bow to thirst and the shadow it
casts over our lives.
We will be our own mothers,
We will be the big sisters we never had,
We will be the fathers we almost had
We will fortify our own walls,
We will protect the vulnerable,
We will protect ourselves,
so, we will protect each other.


© 2019 Girl Rising


  • 1 : Warsan Shire, “How to Bloom in Dark Places” (excerpt), from Brave Girl Rising, produced by Girl Rising in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee, 2019.

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