Behind the doc: A family's search for freedom

Posted May 31, 2016

Most of us are unfamiliar with refugees. The concept of fleeing our hometown and our home country because of war, violence and persecution is foreign to us. Even the word “refugee” conjures up all kinds of negative images and thoughts.

In our documentary “Welcome to North Carolina” we introduce you to Hussein Al Kafaji, his wife Ohood and their daughters Zahraa and Daniah. They are refugees. Their hometown is Baghdad. They are Muslim. They speak Arabic. Those are stark differences from most North Carolinians, but get to know them and you realize those differences are like dust on a mirror that when wiped away reveals a reflection of ourselves.

In Baghdad they were college-educated professionals who fell in love, got married and started raising a family. But Baghdad’s violence put Hussein’s family in danger and he felt he had no choice but to take them and flee as refugees to find a safe place for all of them to live. He did what any of us would do.  He put his family first.  When they moved into their new home in Raleigh in February they expressed the same happiness and excitement that many of us feel when moving into a new home.  Their children joyfully played with the same kinds of toys most American kids play with.  They giggled watching the same cartoons on television.  Hussein and Ohood also have a wonderful sense of humor. Laughter is of course the universal language of all humanity.

When WRAL News anchor Debra Morgan talked with Hussein after our interview for the documentary she found out that she and Hussein both loved watching the same television show. And during the interview itself, when Hussein said “freedom” was why he wanted to settle here, it brought Debra to tears. 

So, Hussein and Ohood have an intense desire for freedom, a desire to practice their faith as they choose, a devotion to their family, a love of laughter and American television and a love of this country. Sound familiar?


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