After the assassination in Baghdad of my oldest brother, followed in the same week by my father’s death by cardiac arrest, literally a broken heart, my entire family of 22 escaped the terror of Iraq’s sectarian war.
After six months as refugees in Syria and another six months in Jordan, we finally arrived in the United States of America during the summer of 2008.
Every day I thank God for the generous care extended to my family by loving Americans, especially the parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Triangle, Virginia.
After terror and ill-treatment in Iraq, we received care and love from strangers in America.
To be treated as family by the parishioners of St. Francis Church was precious.
Those welcoming, now fellow-Americans, will always be in our hearts.
Like our family, many Iraqis left their motherland with virtually nothing but sorrow and fear.
I can only speak for those other Iraqi refugees and their families who were forced to leave their homes only to "resettle" in refugee camps, and for those more fortunate Iraqis who escaped to nearby countries, and who now try to find a better life in those countries.
Whether waiting for their refugee status to be processed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), or already settled in another country close to home, in both cases they desperately convince themselves and their children that their lives now are safer than those who still struggle with daily fear of being killed or kidnapped due to ethnic or religious affiliations, because they support the U.S. mission, or because they take a stand against government corruption and/or Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.
Yet these refugees all face a common fear: the fear of what might be next in our lives.
What is going to happen to us?
Will our kids receive good educations and be able to find work?
Will we have educational and employment opportunities of our own?
Did we make the right move?
Is our value acknowledged by the world and, if yes, why are we still here?
Many refugees quit asking these questions over time.
They face rules and regulations that limit their ability to blend in with the community of the hosting countries, which makes it almost impossible to obtain citizenship no matter how hard they work or how much value they add.
These refugees will always be outsiders: welcomed to live but not to settle.
Those outsiders are in a harder position than the refugees who live in refugee camps because they are tangled heavily by the hosting country rules, ignored by their own government, and rejected by the UNHCR.
I often consider myself a very lucky, indeed blessed, refugee: able to enjoy, above all, the opportunity to live with my family safely in America. It is a great feeling to know that my family and I are both safe and welcome.
It is a true blessing to enjoy the "rule of law" in America, which I never have felt as a burden, but rather as a guide for how better to reestablish myself and to free myself from my own old limitations and fears.
It took me a while to release myself from my fears, and to move on in life.
This great country we call America is indeed the motherland of liberty and democracy.
This country was patient with me during my refugee re-establishment journey, caring and tough at the same time. My refugee experience has taught me how to be an independent woman, how to enjoy my rights as an American citizen, how to respect others and, most importantly, how to appreciate our Constitution.
The most unfortunate current events of lawlessness and violence in this great country has been extremely shocking for me. At the same time, these current events have motivated me to make time to re-read our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
As I have learned from my own life experiences when faced with personal and familial crises, it is good to search for solid sources to guidance.
Such searching has helped me personally to focus on what’s most important, even amongst the most difficult times.
Re-reading our Constitution has reminded me of our Founders' divinely inspired vision for America, "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and just for all."
Reminding ourselves of this vision helps us, individually and as a society, not only to overcome difficult times, but to continuously rebuild and improve ourselves.
Finally, I hope and pray that our continuing to focus on our most important things, including our Constitution, as we endure difficult time will in the end make all families in America great again, especially those families of virtual strangers who so generously welcomed my family of 22 Iraqi refugees into the greater American family.
Mrs. Al Saadi is a refugee from Iraq and now a naturalized American citizen. Prior to co-founding PACEM Solutions International in Falls Church, Virginia, Mrs. Alsaadi held multiple Senior Executive positions and served with the US Department of State as a Cultural Advisor and the US Department of Defense as a Translator/Analyst in Iraq. Mrs. Alsaadi earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Baghdad University and her Executive Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University. Read Rana Alsaadi's Reports — More Here.
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