Bosnian Alma Omerhodzic and Syrian Adil Obaji met 18 years ago in America. They fell in love, got married, and got children.
Mariam is 14 years old, Jannah eight, and Amanah five years old. Obaji family has a million reasons for happiness, dreams and bright future, although the past placed heavy burden on the backs of these people whom the destiny connected with unbreakable threads as in spite – Alma with her scars from war in Bosnia, and Adil with the burden of the war in Syria. Both hurt equally. They are equally attached to their homelands and strive to help people, regardless of where they are or what misfortune befell them, through humanitarian work.
Nothing what happens in Syria today is unfamiliar to Alma. She was an eleven-year-old girl when war broke out in B&H, so she had a hard time realizing that wars are more or less the same throughout the world. The basis of everything is death, hunger, poverty and destruction. There are victims wherever there are wars, in Bosnia, in Syria. She is hurt by the death of her father Alija who disappeared in April 1994, in the time of one of the largest offensives on Goražde. Remains of his body were found in Rogatica in late 1999. She found out the truth about her father’s death in a painful way, reading testimonies of surviving victims from the Rasadnik War Camp.
Alma moved to Buffalo, New York with her mother and brother in 1997. They started a new life there. Although it was difficult to accept all the differences. Language, customs, they made it. Mother was working, she and her brother were working and studying. Her mother and brother eventually returned to Goražde several years ago, and Alma started a family in USA.
Obaji family now lives in Rochester. Alma’s husband is a doctor, pulmonologist, and intensive care specialist, while she stopped working, dedicating herself to the children and volunteering in the Islamic Center of Rochester. She organizes humanitarian campaigns from Syria, organizing some of them even in her house.
The aid she organized went to numerous addresses, wherever people were in trouble. She also helped the citizens of B&H during the floods, the aid also arrived in Goražde, even for the Syrian refugees in that city. Alma is currently working on a campaign for refugees in Europe and victims of earthquake in Pakistan.
“Islamic Center hosts 46 different nations and I am happy that my children are growing up in such atmosphere. My daughter Miriam decided to start wearing hijab this year. I am bot very proud of her and also very afraid of how the environment will accept it. Everything is good so far. Careful people are around us. I am aware of the fact that Muslims in USA are not in the same position everywhere. We do not have problems. People know us, and the Islamic Center is very active in religious circles. There was this one time when the grass in front of one mosque was burned in a shape of a cross, but the police reacted right away. The US Law is strict regarding discrimination of race or religion. Only this new law they are trying to pass, related to slowing the arrival of refugees, but there are many people protesting and I hope that reason will win, not fear,” Alma said.