A weekend with Omer

December 3 & 4, 2011

A busy weekend of shooting gave us an opportunity to learn more about Omer’s personal journey and also to meet more of the refugees he’s helping to relocate.  On Saturday we followed Omer as he visited some refugees.  The refugees are preparing to relocate to Goldsboro, NC, about 3 hours away, as there are better employment opportunities for them there.  For three of the men relocating it will be even harder as they are going without their families.  The hope is that once these men are established in Goldsboro with jobs, they’ll be able to relocate their families there.  These refugees were supposed to be leaving that weekend, but at the last minute their departure was delayed.  Omer was visiting with them to discuss the change in plans and to personally answer their questions and concerns.  Omer’s insistence on visiting them on the weekend is another example of his going beyond what is asked of him. He understands their anxieties over new challenges, and takes it as his responsibility to explain, to soothe their fears.  As has been said before, for Omer, helping these refugees isn’t just a job – it is a calling.

Two of the men who are moving to Goldsboro are from Darfur, and with Omer’s intervention they were gracious in allowing us into their home to film them.  As the discussion progressed, the men from Darfur began to tell their stories, which were powerful and gut-wrenching.  They experienced horrendous acts of cruelty.  It was very emotional for all of us, Omer included, and we immediately felt the responsibility as filmmakers to tell their stories with honor and dignity.  It is a responsibility we do not take lightly.

On Sunday we met Omer at his house and he told us about his life as a young man in Sudan.  He shared with us photographs of him as a young man as well as his original Sudanese passport.  He talked about his job as a news editor at Sudan TV and how his position as a journalist in Sudan made him a target for the Islamist government that took power in Sudan in 1989.  He told us about the “ghost houses,” locations the Sudanese government used to interrogate and eventually “disappear” those that were in opposition to the government.  It was clear that Omer misses his homeland, despite the horrors he and others suffered there, and he shared with us his dream: to work for an American organization based in Sudan.  That way he can have the best of both worlds: a good job and protection as a US citizen as well as the chance to return to the land of his birth.