Almost one week after Hodan Nalayeh’s untimely death, friends and family gathered for a celebration of life remembering the former Toronto journalist.
The 43-year-old and her husband were among the 26 killed after members of al Shabaab, a militant Islamist group, detonated a car bomb at the hotel she was staying at Friday in the port city of Kismayo.
Fifty-six others were injured during the attack.
“She was a fighter, she was a caregiver, and to me, now she is an angel,” said Nasib Kelly, Nalayeh’s nephew.
Nalayeh moved to Somalia after living in Canada with hopes of sharing stories about her home country.
“She wanted to showcase how beautiful that country was,” Kelly said, recalling a specific memory he had of his aunt.
“She really loved tea and just that little thing that she wanted to showcase to the world — that, even through the hard times, no matter what, something could be beautiful.”
WATCH: Friends remember Canadian journalist killed in Somalia
On Thursday, a banquet hall was filled with friends and family honouring the 43-year-old woman.
“It’s very humbling that my sister’s work and life and a number of friends she has abroad — she’s impacted so many people,” said Sahra Nalayeh, Hodan’s sister.
Nalayeh worked as a media executive, social activist and media and social media personality.
She had spent much of her career promoting her cultural heritage on Integration TV, the first English television show for Somalis around the world.
“What made her really unique was her ability to tell a story. Not just to tell someone’s story in respect to ‘this is what they are doing’, but really getting into the heart of the matter,” Sahra said, adding she intends to keep her sister’s passion alive.
“Telling stories about our people — whether they are in Canada, the U.S. or abroad, or back in Somalia — and we want to continue that.”
— With files from Morganne Campbell.
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