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Obur Omod's Story

Obur's Story

Obur and his family lived in a village in the Gambella region of Ethiopia.  He had a good job as a media spokesperson for the regional government, only one of five Anyuak Ethiopians to positions in the majority government.  Anyuaks have been an oppressed minority in Ethiopia for generations.  In 2002 a car bomb killed 15 government officials.  Immediately the Ethiopian military police entered Anyuak communities and raped, burned and killed over 500 Anyuaks.  It became an international incident. Obur and his 4 Anuyuak colleagues were imprisoned.  He was tortured.  At one point he was forced to dig a grave and get in it and put a gun in his mouth.  But they did not make him pull the trigger that day. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (IRCR) was allowed to interview Obur to see if prisoners were being treated humanely.  Obur was released after the interview.  But two days later, a friend called and said I cannot help you, but I want you to know they are coming to re-arrest you.  He talked to his family, said good-bye to Kom and his children, Ajulu and Ojulu.  He set out on foot to Sudan.  On arrival he checked himself into a government office seeking asylum.  Sudanese officials said they would not jeopardize their relationship with Ethiopia and would send him back.  Obur ran outside and saw a Red Cross truck.  The workers told him to get in and they headed to Kenya.

Obur was registered in Kenya as a refugee, a person who cannot return to his homeland due to political persecution.  Obur did not dare tell his family where he was or that he was alive, knowing the government would be pressing them for information on his whereabouts.  Ten difficult years passed for Obur as a refugee.  Ten years passed for Kom who had to rely on Obur's brother for support.  

Fast Forward: A new life in Indianapolis, Indiana and connects with Wesley United Methodist Church

Obur Omod is resettled in Indianapolis, IN by Catholic Charities Refugee Program.  He is given an apartment on the west side.  He looks for other Africans and finds a Congolese family who attends Wesley United Methodist Church.  Obur is in their apartment when DeeEllen Davis comes to pick the parents up for a Habitat for Humanity information session at Wesley United Methodist Church.  She invites Obur to join them.  She learned that just the day before he had arrived and was able to reach his family by cell phone to tell them he was alive and in the United States.  

DeeEllen, chair of Wesley Community Services, provides support with Wesley United Methodist Church

DeeEllen is the chair of Wesley Community Services and helped established a Refugee Faith Care Team.  Quickly Obur was welcomed into the Wesley family.  He needed a winter coat, help with a driver's license, paying taxes and all the other things needed when placement services have ended.  He had a job.  Soon he was connected to an immigration lawyer to start the two year process to get Kom, Ajulu and Ojulu to join him in the USA.  

Obur and children are now US Citizens

Obur and the children, now 17 and 14, are US citizens.  Kom needs to improve her English to be able to take that step.  Pamann and Kare have been born in the US and another baby is due this fall.  Ajulu has been supported to play basketball and has several college scholarship offers pending.  Ojulu has had eye surgery and no longer sees double.  Kom works part-time.  Obur's dream has always been to get more education and provide a home for his family.  
 

Wesley United Methodist Church shares in  International Mission Projects with Obur

Obur has been a key player in several international missions projects created at Wesley United Methodist Church.  Now seven Anyuak families live in Indianapolis.  They have told us stories how they had to worship under a tree for shade but the heat was tremendous.  Hot winds or driving rains often cancelled worship for the Anyuak Christians at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.  So we send money so they could get timber and sheet metal and build a church shelter.  The next project was "Mission for Maize", 

Obur and the other adults remember missing meals for days so their children could eat.  So we wired money to the church leaders who bought the maize and had it ground (saving women hours of pounding).  When we asked if they were ready for the last funds to be sent, they wanted instead to find a way to use our money to make money to buy more maize to make porridge for the children on Sundays prior to Bible study and worship.  So the final result was they were able to buy a motorcycle and helmets and hire themselves out to refugees needing transportation to Nairobi to hospitals or other appointments they are allowed to do. 

Also, the UNHCR changed the system of distributing maize to refugees.  The Anyuaks at Kakuma have been approved to distribute maize and have a little grocery store.  The profit will buy maize for Sundays, widows and orphans.  The most recent mission project that Obur and other Anyuaks provided leadership for, was for school scholarships.  UNHCR temporarily stopped paying for high school age youth to go to a neighboring village to attend school. Wesley UMC was able to send enough for all the 10-12 grade Anyuak youth to continue school in the past year.  

Written by:  DeeEllen Davis, Refugee Faith Care Team, Wesley UMC  317-431-7261 cell

Last Published: August 17, 2018 11:09 AM
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