(ABC 6 News) — Ajulu Obang Okello has reason to celebrate.
“She was like, ‘I thank God for what the government of the United States did for me, to bring my children here,” said her son, Oballa Oman Oballa.
It was Dec. 13, 2003 … the day Okello and her children fled their home in Gambella, Ethiopia during a massacre that claimed 424 lives, including the life of her brother. Her family spent most of the next decade in a refugee camp in Kenya, until finally…
“In the year 2013, in December, God opened the way and we reached the United States,” Oballa explained.
“The government of the United States has been so wonderful to everyone, all who are suffering,” he said, interpreting for his mother.
Now, it’s time to say ‘thank you.’
“The reason why I made these things is to give appreciation to the government,” Okello said through her son.
The gifts include a belt for President Obama.
“She made it with all the beads on it, and then she sewn it with a needle,” Oballa explained.
She also made a matching tie, and a gift for the First Lady.
“This is like bracelet for Michelle Obama,” Oballa said, displaying his mother’s handiwork.
But the greatest gift could be what she’s given the rest of us.
“It’s really easy for us as a society because we live a very comfortable, normally very safe life to not really understand the atrocities going on around the world,” said the Austin Human Rights Commission’s Richard Lemons. “I think for me at least, putting a human face on it and seeing a real person changes my perspective.”
She also reminds us of something we often forget.
“When I reached the United States, it was like this is the land of opportunity,” Oballa said.