I’m Afro-Italian, born in Bologna city, but grown in the northern suburbs.I am an ex #telonoazzurro child and a #metoo, as a child and as a girl. I’ve always been a lucky one. When I was 3 years and a half, I started dreaming about becoming a fashion designer. This dream has been my Northern Star, and saved my life.Nothing though, is as simple as it seems. .
I AM Ragia Kaja Abdulwahed
Hurghada, Red Sea. 5PM 2001, 9/11
Back then, I had a job as Costumes Designer and Art director; I had plans in the fashion industry. To follow whom I thought was the love of my life back then, within a few days I left everything behind me. That was a crucial step along a geographical, professional but mostly PERSONAL pilgrimage, which I started when I was 19.
Then, I entered in ”spare Ragia” mode. I started a career in tourism, working onboard cruise ships in the Mediterranean 12 to 19 hrs per day, back to back, no day off for 8 months in a row. The wages were not calculated x hour, nor we had benefits such for extra working hrs or night duties or bank holidays). After 4 years, I had enough, proceeded ashore and started working as Tour Leader for English speaking coming to visit Europe.
It was extremely demanding to find a balance in between very hyperactive periods where my personal life was in sleeping mode, phyrsically far, and to those back home only apparently, dead calm. I really worked my ass off, trying to get both economic independence and emotional stability. It was necessary in order to get to the shore after a shipwreck.
Besides great happy memories, I also experienced DEEPLY GLOOMY moments: in some occasions, I didn’t even earn enough to make a living; in some others I’ve been on the brink of emotional breakdown. My own family, despite fallen apart since always, saved me, and was crucial twice.
About creating space…
Hence, I lost important friendships, but I also did grow many others. I met new ones; sometimes I just briefly crossed someone’s path. I started leaving each relation as a mean to cultivate myself, as if it was an encouragement, even when this was not the intention from the person in front of me. Ten 10 years ago, I started working in France; it was a sudden and lucky chance.
Certainly, my journey is about a boundless amount of people from all over the Globe, places and real life moments: this is what I’m thankful for.
In the meantime, I abandoned my family, and the dream of changing it into a non- dysfunctional one.
… to allow something new in!
So, my dream came back, and I had to go beyond feeling guilty, to welcome it again. Once I felt, it was as if we never set apart, I also realized , It was capital to try anything in my power to make it happen.
Furthermore, my engagement in tourism is still a big share of my life today; but with a different meaning, since it became a fundamental economic resource, to finance the creative project I’m bringing to life. Besides, giving me the chance of traveling often to France, which I love deeply and consider a sort of second home.
I must admit, everything is happening at such a speed that, I often feel out of control and disoriented.
It’s maybe better that way though! I’ll learn how to surf life, as I put together all the past experiences, and shape them into something new; to return something beautiful in exchange of whatever I got, such as having crossed marvelous people’s path; those that saved and supported me but also those that wounded me. Nothing is possible if we are islands.
Throughout the times, I gave birth, protected, cradled and nourished this dream. I left it too, taking a big distance for an seemingly life-long time.
I have been missing it, and look for it; I found it back and welcomed it in again. This dream started changing into an idea, from an idea it turned into a project. Now, it’s becoming reality.