Syrian Mother & Translator

People we knew began disappearing.
Suhad Khudhair 1.JPG

“In 2006, I was working as a translator and interpreter for the United States government in Iraq. The other employees and I began receiving anonymous, threatening emails telling us that we needed to stop working for the US government. As we traveled to and from work, we always traveled different roads, because we knew people were following and hunting us down.

People we knew began disappearing. We did not know if they were threatening us because of money, religion, or another reason. Things got so bad that our director told us not to come to work for a while because he did not want to lose anyone. Anytime it became too dangerous, I worked from home. I faced death threats, bombings, and attempted kidnappings many times. My parents were always worried that I would not make it home safely.

I could not stay in Iraq. I was afraid for both myself and my children, so I applied for a visa to leave Iraq. My dad was in Egypt at that time, and he told me that I needed to leave. My boss supported my decision, so I fled to Egypt.” 


I did not want to go back though. There is no future there.

“I started working with the International Office of Migration and in 2009, and I came to the United States through the International Rescue Committee.

After arriving, it was all I could do to try to make enough money to take care of my family. I took jobs putting fliers up at a university, taught Arabic, worked on farms, and shoveled snow at my apartment complex to help reduce the rent. As soon as my children would arrive home from school they would go with me to the fields to help earn money to pay for cell phone bills, housing and groceries.

I volunteered at Catholic Community Services (CCS). Eventually, I got my first full time job as an interpreter at CCS. After working as an interpreter for CCS, I was promoted to be a case manager assistant, and now I am the housing coordinator.

When we first arrived, my children said to me, “Mom, let us go back.” I did not want to go back though. There was and is no future there. It has not been easy to be here, but our destiny is here. It took a while to adjust, but my children now love it in America. They do not want to go back anymore.

One year ago, after living in America for six years, I received citizenship. My family and I are proud that we have reached this point. We bought our first home. We have work hard and we still have dreams. My son and I would like to open a small café, a mix of Middle Eastern and international cuisine. I will continue working hard so that I can help my children fulfill their dreams.”



From: Iraq
Current Location: United States
Family: children
Age: 51 years old