Amir Omidvar left Iran during the revolutionary crisis in 1982. For twenty months after leaving his home, Amir did everything he could to cross the Atlantic ocean. While taking refuge in Spain, he made three failed attempts to enter the US; a fake passport in Heathrow, a Mexican jail, and a beating by customs officers in Milan — until a fourth and final attempt brought him to Canadian shores. Amir speaks to his daughter, Shayda, about why he decided to leave and how arriving in Canada has impacted his life and the life of his family. The Hopeful, at its core, is about the Canadian Dream. Walk side by side with Amir through his personal journey, and hear how he persevered not only through physical obstacles, but feelings of desperation, loss, and loneliness, only to find hope and happiness in his new forever home.
Meet the family! Our host Shayda Omidvar introduces us to her father Amir Omidvar. Shayda sets the stage for the epic journey her dad embarked on nearly 38 years ago. The middle child of seven kids, in a poor family, Amir started working from the age of 9 and soon into his teens started hearing tales of neighbours or acquaintances traveling to the US and finding better lives for themselves. This would become his new dream.
How do you make the decision to leave your home? Shayda takes us through the ins and outs of the Iranian Revolution (and the effects of heartbreak) to learn why her father set his sights on escape. In the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, Amir makes covert plans to cross the border into Turkey with with nothing but his passport and his life savings in gold. A series of fateful encounters takes him to Madrid and then Mexico City, but his luck runs out at the Tijuana border crossing.
Amir finds himself at a detention centre in Nogales. The conditions are terrible, the food is almost non-existent, and he barely sleeps for weeks. Finally, he and his fellow prisoners are released and loaded onto a bus heading for Mexico City. He is told he must return to Madrid. At the airport, he meets a beautiful, mysterious stranger who changes his life forever…almost. Finally, he heads to Italy to regroup—but that doesn’t turn out as planned, either.
Defeated and broke, but far from hopeless, Amir returns to Barcelona and immediately starts planning his next attempt into the US. He is close to giving up, but his siblings in Iran rally to help him. Amir meets a new group of Iranian refugees all looking for a better life. He gets a job and even opens himself up to dating. But he never takes his eyes off his goal, and eventually sets his sights on Canada. As he prepares for his final attempt to leave Spain, he has a community rooting for him.
Amir prepares for his final attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone he’s met in Barcelona is behind him, praying for him, hoping this time it works. He makes it to a small city in British Columbia and gets a job washing cars in the dead of winter. But even though he has reached his goal, he feels something is missing. He’s lonely, and still yearns for a better life.
Amir packs up his car and heads to Vancouver. He moves in with an elderly woman who teaches him how to adapt to his new Canadian life. With the help of a new friend and father figure, Amir works as a mechanic and finally has some financial security. Then he meets the love of his life. In this season finale, Amir reflects on his life, gives thanks to everyone who helped him along the way, and sends a message to those who are in need of hope.
Relatable and Important
So many of our parents keep these stories buried and hearing Amir share his was an honor and so incredibly powerful. Thanks for creating this series and sharing it with the world. Truly beautiful work.
Everyone needs to hear this. Such a moving story. I cried during every episode.
All should listen
Thank you for sharing a personally painful, strength, and determination to be a positive impact on society and what people may assume but you have been able to communicate nicate for all to hear, listen, process, and reflect on our thoughts, unintentional negative and misled beliefs, and the insight and wisdom to learn the truth and life changing preconceived notions and assumptions we too often conclude today. Beautiful and you and your family should stand proud making our world more evolved, understanding, and proud of the lives we chose to live. Insight was life changing.