The first family we will visit is from Iraq. The family includes the father (39), mother (38) and two sons (12 and 13). The father worked the Ministry of Defense in Iraq for many years. He was unhappy with the corruption in the Ministry of Defense so he took a job as an interpreter with the United States military. His wife was an elementary school teacher. She taught school until they departed from Iraq. Their decision to leave was not because of the economy in Iraq, but the lack of safety and security for the family. The family left directly from Iraq to the United States on a special immigration visa. They arrived here in early November. The sons like school and are making friends in Arizona. Now that they are in Arizona the parents look forward to obtaining jobs, with a long term goal of owning their own home. The father is pleased that the family will enjoy more options and freedom in the United States. He was one of seven children. As a child he had dreams of learning another language and becoming a tour guide. When he was young he studied English and became proficient in the language. He knows that his command of the English language is a great asset now that he lives in the United States.
The next family we will visit is also from Iraq. They arrived in mid-November. The family includes the mother (38) and her brother (30) and the mother’s children. The mother has three children, two sons (19 and 15), and one daughter (16). The mother and her family were forced to leave Iraq after kidnapping threats to her children. There were also safety concerns because her brother had worked with the United States military. The family fled to Turkey and lived there for five years. Although the mother had been a stay-at-home mom in Iraq, after she and her husband divorced she began baking and knitting to earn income. She is highly skilled at crochet. The mother makes very beautiful and intricate pieces. When the family lived in Turkey the children could not go to school, and neither the mother nor her brother could work. However, one son picked up some Turkish and found work as a carpenter. The other son sold shoes. They family finds Arizona to be very nice. They are anxious to increase their English language skills and settle into the community.
The third family we will visit this week is also from Iraq. The family consists of the father (51), mother (39) and two sons (17 and 15). They have been in Arizona for less than a month. The father worked as a civil engineer in Iraq. He also was in the Iraqi military for twenty one years. He was four years shy of being eligible for a pension when he had to leave the military. He worked for the United States military as a resident engineer supervisor prior to moving to Jordan. In Jordan the father was able to work as an engineer. The family began to feel unsafe in Jordan because the father had worked for the U.S. military. They also felt unsafe because they are Christian. They have family in Iraq and in Germany. The father is realistic in his assessment of his life here. He says, “There are two sides: I am almost 51 years old. I am educated and have held good jobs in my field. It is hard to leave so much of life and accomplishment behind. But, here we have freedom in our faith and the ability to make choices freely, and for that we are grateful.”