In early 2005, Omar Ha-Redeye found himself travelling to Indonesia to help rebuild a community following a devastating Boxing Day tsunami. It’s estimated that more than 200,000 Indonesians were killed. Villages, tourist resorts, farmland and fishing grounds were completely demolished.
He worked to recruit doctors and secure fundraising, and although he wasn’t aware of it at the time, it turned out to be his first experience in law — a career he would eventually pursue.
Omar, who is currently the Executive Director of the Durham Community Legal Clinic, took an incredibly valuable sentiment away from his relief efforts in South Asia.
“I think what I took from my experiences after the tsunami and working in Indonesia, was the enormous amount of resilience that we see where the devastation there was, in some cases, complete,” he says. “Entire villages were wiped out. And yet the remnants, the survivors who were there, you would see them all together, four, five, six people with some kids running around, and make the assumption that perhaps that’s a family. And they would say, ‘No, this was my street. These are my neighbour’s kids. And that’s my other neighbour’s wife. And we’re all just trying to get by and come together to get through this very difficult time.’
“I think that’s the one of the few sentiments that I really took with me going forward is that the amazing ability of individuals, of communities, to come together to get through difficult times is something that I do think we see irrespective of culture and irrespective of society.”
Listen to the podcast below to learn how Omar approaches leadership, both professionally and personally, and how he used his early humanitarian experiences in Indonesian as building blocks for an impassioned legal career.