USAHello’s board chair Mohy Omer fled war in Sudan
Mohy Omer is USAHello’s new Board Chair. After fleeing Sudan, he now is working to promote peace in the region and develop other leaders.
Mohy Omer has traveled a long road from war and genocide in Sudan to coordinating a program for youth leaders at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
Mohy Omer was born in Sennar, Sudan. As he grew up, the region was being torn apart by conflict. Forced to leave his village, Mohy joined other young protestors against the genocide, hoping to put pressure on the government to stop. Instead, the government started targeting the protestors.
“We had to flee, otherwise we would have been killed. So that’s when I decided to flee the country to save my life and escape death,” Mohy explained. Like many from Sudan and South Sudan, he sought safety in a refugee camp in Kenya. After two years, he was resettled in the United States. His first US home was Fargo, North Dakota.
For Mohy, the hardest thing about coming to the United States was leaving his family. “Not being close to my family and not being able to see or be part of what they were going through was, and still is, the hardest thing about living far away,” he says.
That was not his only challenge.
“I was a refugee, I came to the US without any basic skills, I couldn’t speak the language, I didn’t know a person,” Mohy Omer says.
In spite of this, Mohy persevered. He learned English, he went to community college, transferred to the university and worked his way to a degree in political science. He paid his way and earned his living by working at Target.
In 2014, Mohy began an internship with Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. He gained his US citizenship, and the senator took him to Washington, DC, to continue working in her office at the Capitol. Senator Heitkamp is a supporter of New Americans and gave Mohy opportunities to help other refugees.
“He’s just a very talented young man” said Senator Heitkamp in 2015. “I know that whatever he decides to do, he’s going to be extraordinarily good at.”
It turns out the senator was right. Mohy is now the program assistant at USIP’s Sudan and South Sudanese Leadership program. The program brings young leaders from Sudan and South Sudan to Washington, DC, for four months. It helps them gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to further their peace-building work and go back to their communities as stronger agents of peace. And it gives Mohy a chance to help his native country.
Many refugees report wanting to give back to the countries they have fled. So what is Mohy Omer’s advice to other young refugees and immigrants who want to contribute to their countries of origin while living in the United States?
“Before you can contribute to your country of origin, you need to be successful in whatever you do here in the US,” he says. “So, my advice is work hard and succeed at being the best at something, and then you will be able to positively contribute to your country of origin in any way you choose.”
Mohy is also the Chair of the Board of USAHello. He helps set the vision and goals for our organization.
Mohy said the reason he decided to volunteer and serve on the board of USAHello is because:“As a former refugee, I understand the immense need for USAHello. I know having information you can understand is an incredibly important part of integration.”