A Somali Leader Speaks Out for Clean Water

Video can be a powerful educational tool, and the MWMO is no stranger to producing videos about protecting water quality. But this year, our most interesting and impactful video project was not one of our own, but one produced by Somali TV of Minnesota, and starring a man named Abdikadir Mohamed Adan.

Adan, who is better known by his nickname Xiito (short for “Macalin Xiito,” which translates roughly to “Skinny Teacher”), is an educator and a pillar of the local Somali community. A recent Star Tribune feature documented his amazing journey from civil war refugee to teacher and nonprofit founder — as well as his recent struggle with type 2 diabetes, which has left him blind.

Xiito (pronounced HEE-toe) visited our Stormwater Park and Learning Center in October to film a Somali-language educational video about protecting and conserving clean water. The idea for the video, which so far has racked up more than 3,000 views on YouTube, was entirely his own. He wanted to raise awareness in the Somali community about water quality issues.

“They have to see the issue before they do something about it,” Xiito said. “It is important to teach kids who is responsible — how we can save the earth from the trash.”

A still from Xiito’s video, ILAALINTA WABIYADA, produced by Somali TV of Minnesota.
A still from Xiito’s video, ILAALINTA WABIYADA, produced by Somali TV of Minnesota. Xiito, left, visited the MWMO’s Stormwater Park and Learning Center to film the video in October with Stewardship and Community Outreach Specialist Tammy Schmitz.

In the video, Xiito visits the MWMO and attends a presentation by Stewardship and Community Outreach Specialist Tammy Schmitz. The video is partially in Somali and partially in English. Xiito said younger Somalis understand both languages.

Xiito has in fact been a frequent visitor to the MWMO over the years. Although he is known as a math and science teacher, he said a three-day class at Hamline University and his conversations with MWMO staff made him want to do a video “to wake up the people” about the problem of pollution in our waterways. He said the response to the video has been positive.

“A lot of people say, ‘We don’t know before,’” Xiito said. “Without water, there is no life, there is no earth. No animals, no trees, no humans.”

Although he can no longer see, Xiito has not lost his sense of the beauty of nature. He said learning about environmental issues has made him see the world in a different light. For example, he likens snow (something he had never seen before coming to the United States) to fields of white flowers.

“I do not call it the snow, I call it the white flowers, because it becomes the water, and it helps the flowers grow, and helps the humans and the animals and the trees,” Xiito said, adding, “There is hidden beauty in Minnesota.”

You can watch Xiito’s video below. Most of it is in Somali, but Tammy’s presentation, beginning at 2:53, is in English.

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