COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A group of local leaders and activists is trying to make Muslim kids feel more comfortable talking about their challenges.

On Saturday My Project USA hosted what they called a Muslim Youth Town Hall. Organizers say it was the first of of its kind in Columbus.

“We, in 2019 should be at the point where our youth should be able to come forward, discuss these issues,” said Zerqa Abid, Founder and Executive Director of My Project USA. “We need to do our very best to protect and empower these youth. People mostly in our community try to keep these issues under the rug.” 

One of the speakers at the event was Jasmin Osman. She’s a Danish American who’s dad is from Somalia. She says in 2016 she was sent to Somalia “by the voices in the back” of her community.

“I was sent for being too Western; I was sent for wearing clothes that are not appropriate. But I could never, ever, tell you that I was sent for anything too dangerous, because I’ve always been a good kid, and I will be a good kid and also a good adult,” she said. 

She says she was abused in Somalia before she escaped in 2017. Now she’s sharing her story with the hopes of helping other Muslim young people open up about problems they may be dealing with. 

“I’m here today to share my story because I’m not afraid to share my story, because it’s who I am. It’s a part of who I am. But I still have this aftermath,” Osman said. “I’m still taking steps to bettering my future, I’m still taking steps to empower other people besides me.” 

Organizers are still trying to raise awareness about their work, and they hope more people come to future events.