Over hummus and shishtawook, Global Cleveland hosted the producer and director of the amazing documentary “Resistance is Life,” along with our cosponsors, Cleveland Public Theater. The film made its world premier at the 41st Cleveland INTERNATIONAL Film Festival.
Apo Bazidi and Goran Zaneti came to our offices near Public Square and shared how they got to know the people in the small but vital city of Kobani, in northern Syria. Our filmmaker friends talked about the unimaginable struggle the families face as they defend their community against extremists of the Islamic State, their ordeal in refugee camps across the border in Turkey, and the dangers that await them when they return home.
What came from the meeting wasn’t something our team expected. Goran and Apo spoke of the unquenchable hope that these refugees exuded. And it gave us an idea. So often in these times, the good people of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County ask: “What can we do?” With the help of our filmmaker friends and Cleveland Public Theater, we hope to establish a direct line to the residents working to remake their lives in Kobani.
How will it manifest? That’s not yet clear. Right now, the people of Kobani need help simply surviving. Global Cleveland plans to take the lead in directing cash donations to the appropriate agencies. In the near future, perhaps Kobani could join our pantheon of Sister Cities and become one of the world communities with which we share cultural and economic ties. We will talk with members of our proud and successful Syrian community to see what they think is the best course of action.
Meanwhile, I urge you to try and see the movie. I know you will see what I did–the qualities that we Clevelanders cherish.
In spite of the daily bombings, remnant ISIL threats, and the struggle to rebuild the basic necessities of life, the people of Kobani hope and persevere. Their community is made up of people who remind me a lot of us in Northeastern Ohio.
If you are reading this, you get it. You get that refugees are forever thankful for a second chance, that immigrants bring the kind of hope and energy that creates jobs. You get that new Americans want what we all want for our loved ones–safety, freedom, a future.
You get that we have a shortage of people now in many of our neighborhoods as well as in our labs; that our companies are in a constant search for the talent they need to grow.
And mostly, you get that the geography we live in, the best place on earth–Cleveland Cuyahoga County NEO–was built by people who came from far away under great stress to take up the plow of planting and growing America. They brought borscht, ginger, saffron, and life. We are here because Cleveland welcomed them.
The challenge we have now is to see the need to be more welcoming. To see the greatest opportunity for human, economic and community development in our region.
It’s time. We need your help.
Email or call me if you want in. Thanks for getting it.
President, Global Cleveland