When people ask me who my heroes are, I have a hard time answering. It’s hard to know a person from afar and, for me personally, I have a hard time applying such a grand label without having a more direct experience of a person. After interviewing Omar Bah, I can honestly say he’s one of my heroes.
This conversation blew me away.
Omar is a torture survivor, former journalist and refugee from The Gambia in West Africa. Before he escaped his country he was beaten and stabbed with rifle bayonets until he bled to unconsciousness. When the government found out that he was providing foreign media with information about local corruption, they put a ransom on his life. He narrowly escaped and was eventually resettled to Providence, Rhode Island.
Arriving in the US in 2007 he had no family, no friends, and no resources. On top of that he was highly traumatized from his experiences and had no idea that he was suffering from PTSD. He literally wanted to die. Today, a little over 10 years later, Omar is the founder of the Refugee Dream Center, a community organization serving the refugee population of Rhode Island. Omar is also the author of the book, Africa’s Hell on Earth, and he represents the state of Rhode Island at the Refugee Congress of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington, DC.
Omar’s salvation came in realizing that he wasn’t alone. Many other refugees were struggling just as he was. In fact, Omar was fortunate to speak English. He used the same activist inspiration that got him in trouble back home, to become involved with the local refugee population. Since that time Omar has built a thriving non-profit organization serving local refugees and creating deep community between American and foreign cultures.
What comes through Omar’s story the most though, is his deep humanity. His suffering has left him with a deep empathy for the human condition and a transcendent view of issues related to nationality and religion.
In this conversation listen to Omar share how he overcame wanting to die, how he built the Refugee Dream Center community, and the personal philosophy that underlies his work.