After struggling to find a job in Iraq,I was hired to be an interpreter for the United States government for six months. I was not able to renew my contract and ended up working in a business office.
I don’t know how, but someone got my information. They knew I worked for the United States government. One day, they left an envelope on my desk at my new job. Inside, I found a bullet and a note that said, “We know who you are. You will live the nightmare.” They gave me proof that they knew who I was by including a picture of me in the envelope. I didn’t know who left it or how powerful he was. I had no other option but to run for my life. I couldn’t tell anyone what was going on. I moved my family to another city for protection and fled to Turkey. Thank God, my family is still safe and I survived.
I lived in Turkey as a refugee for two and a half years. I had many struggles. I wasn’t allowed to work legally. I had to find a job illegally to pay for my basic needs. I was only paid 50% of the wages and sometimes not paid at all. I remember working 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week. I didn’t speak the language. I was hit by a car and had some medical bills. I have dark skin so people assumed I was there to steal their jobs. Finally, I went to UNHCR to present my case and story. Two years later, in 2012, I came to the United States as a refugee.
My first feeling when I arrived in the United States was relief. I felt that whatever happened here could never be worse than what I faced in Iraq or Turkey. I started learning many things about American life, work and culture. I learned that there are some traditions from my past may not be suitable to my new life here. I had to be patient because there were many difficulties adjusting to my new life. I didn’t have a car or know how to go about finding a job. I received a lot of support from my caseworker and the resettlement agency.
Now, I work as a job developer; I help refugees find jobs. I feel for my clients because I have been where they are. I always tell them to be patient with themselves and to be open to learn. Within the next five years, I want to be my own boss. I’d also like to have a family. I speak English, and of course, it needs some work, but I can use the education that I got in my country to accomplish my goals here.
My family is still in Iraq. Thank God we live in an era of technology so I can still communicate with them. I want to go back and visit, but honestly, I am still hesitant. I feel like the ghost of the terror I ran away from in Iraq is still chasing me. But I do feel that I am safer here.
I am proud that I am still a human being. Whatever happened to me in the past does not change that; it didn’t make me a bad person. I am grateful for everyday of my life. When I make friends or learn something new, I feel proud that I am becoming a better version of myself.
Current Location: Utah
Family: parents, 7 siblings & some half siblings
Age: 33 years old