Hi, first of all, I’m very happy to be one of Habitat for Humanity’s participants. I was born in Iraq in the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s. I spent all my childhood moving from town to town with my family, running away from the war because we were living close to the border where most of the military operations took place.
My family is very small. I didn’t see my father because he died when I was only five months old in a war related accident. So, my mother took a huge responsibility to support the family through those difficult years. After the war, the whole country went through a harsh economic embargo that imposed on the dictatorship regime for more than 13 years because of the invasion of Kuwait. The embargo made the majority of the population live under severe poverty.
Through those years, I managed to finish my education. In my last year of school, the US-Iraq war took place again in 2003. This led to a dramatic change in the country’s social and cultural situation. Iraq went through a severe civil war among its different religious and ethnic groups. As a result there was millions of families displaced internally in addition to millions of families who returned to their home after 2003.
Therefore, in 2004, I started working with an American humanitarian organization in Iraq to help refugees and vulnerable minorities in different areas. I was conducting different case management processes to help those families with their basic needs (food, water, shelter health and education). Our job required us to enter some really dangerous towns and villages that considered as hot zones for many people. We managed to rescue and assist thousands of families over the six years I was working there.
The Iraq civil war was a very dirty one. Unfortunately, during wars, some groups don’t differentiate between militants and humanitarian workers. With the increase of turmoil in the area we were working in, some militant groups started targeting the aid workers. In 2007, two of our employees were kidnapped and we didn’t hear anything about them for weeks. This led to minimize our operation in some areas, but the security situation was still getting worse. Unknown messages were received by our organization that employees will be their next target. This had put us in a great danger. I didn’t feel safe there anymore, especially I was going into different areas and many people recognized me. I started to feel serious fears about my life there, that’s why I came to United States. This is my travel story.
Unfortunately my family is still stuck in Iraq, and I hope I can bring them here soon. With the help of Habitat for Humanity and the great volunteers in the area, I feel a lot safer here and I’m working hard to build this home so in case (hopefully) my family comes here, they would have a place to stay in.
I can’t thank Habitat and the volunteers enough for all the support and passion they have been showing to me and to other families. People like these are making the real changes in this life, because they are touching the hearts and treating the wounds.
God bless you all.