My name is Fatima and I am from Iraq. My husband worked as a translator for the American military in our homeland, putting his life at risk. He began to receive threats on his life if he didn’t stop working for the Americans, and one day after he was nearly killed we decided we needed to get out of the country. He left that same night and fled to Turkey.
Exactly two weeks later I took the children and we escaped to Syria, as it was not possible to get to Turkey at that time. In Syria we applied for refugee status– lots of paperwork, interviews, medical checks, background checks, security checks and more. Finally were were approved for refugee status and we learned we would be moving to Tucson, AZ.
My oldest son went to the internet cafe and looked up the city on the internet and we learned that Tucson is “sahara” (desert) just like our homeland and that made us more excited to go and start our new lives there, hoping that my husband would soon join us there as well.
We landed in Tucson International Airport and were greeted by our case manager and escorted to our apartment that had been furnished by donations to their agency. We stayed in our apartment and never ventured out except when our case manager came to get us for appointments.
We were excited to finally meet some Americans when we began attending an English class at a church nearby about 5 months after our arrival. We were not lonely any more after that! I am so thankful for the friends we met there and the love they showed us. I didn’t know at the time, but they would be the only family I knew until I was finally reunited with my husband three years later.