By John Pierce
It is hard to imagine the upheaval for refugees who are forced to leave their familiar, but war-torn homelands and settle in a strange setting where opportunities for a new life are hindered by language and culture.
Through the years, as a writer and editor, I have seen (and reported on) the commendable work of those who extend a helping hand with resettlement. Such compassionate efforts, deep commitments and sacrificial giving are so appreciated by displaced persons seeking a fresh and safe start for their families.
Some 8,000 citizens of Greensboro, N.C., are resettled refugees. Their arrival in the N.C. Triad is made easier by the welcome of many — and the tireless efforts of Professor Omer Omer of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Omer is not detached from the refugee’s first-hand experience. A former TV reporter, Omer’s views conflicted with those of the new Islamist regime in Sudan following the 1989 coup d’etat that put Omar Al Bashir in power.
After resettling in Greensboro, Omer committed himself to helping other refugees, who are also forced to leave their homeland, through the North Carolina African Services Coalition. His is an inspiring story that should be told — and, in fact, it will be soon.
My niece, Hillary Pierce, is co-director (with two other Wake Forest University graduate students) of a new documentary film — titled The One Who Builds — about Omer and his good work. She said the film focuses heavily on interfaith dialogue and teamwork that results from Omer’s ability to facilitate cooperation among diverse people to accomplish this important work.
These talented young student directors are raising funds through Kickstarter (through Aug. 17) in order to complete their film that they hope to release in October. More on Omer and the documentary can be found at theonewhobuilds.com.