Ghadah moved to Houston with her daughter, Haneen, and two sons, Muhammad and Muscafa, after her husband was kidnapped and killed in 2003. He was a pilot in the army who worked and took care of everything for them in Iraq. Because of the war Ghadah decided to leave to create a better future for her kids.
They moved to Jordan for about two and a half years before being accepted into the United States. With her husband being a famous pilot in the Iraqi army, the security check was able to find all the information about him easily and luckily they were able to help Ghadah and her kids. “I’m thankful to them because they know my system, they know I need to live in peace with my family.” Ghadah explained.
They were very thankful to be accepted to move to Houston. Muhammad said, “There’s not a lot of opportunities for jobs or school, education. Plus [we left Jordan] because we had to get a residency or a green card and we couldn’t get it because only people that had a certain amount of money in the bank could actually get, so in that case the Jordanians were kicking people out— if they found you in the street and you don’t have a residency or green card they would kick you out, literally.” Mustafa added, “You couldn’t get a good job if you’re not from Jordan.”
About 6 months after they moved to Houston, Amaanah Refugee Services reached out to Ghadah to help her and her kids. A friend told Amaanah about her situation and they were “happy to come to knock [on] my door. They told me if you need help [we will help you]. At that time I wanted help because I don’t know where I should register my kids for school and much information [during that] time I asked them. They helped me and they taught me where I should go shopping and they [introduced] me [to] many refugee people who came before me here. And they helped me with Muscafa. They [taught] Muscafa [in an after school program] because he [didn’t] know the system for [how to study] in the school.”
Ghadah expressed how hard it is in the beginning because the culture is so different in America. “When we talk with a person who [we] respect very much we should not see in his eyes, but here when you talk with person–your boss or any person–you should watch in his eyes. So we don’t know that. So in the beginning when I met my caseworker or my director, who helped me to be or to continue with my situation here as a refugee. I remember when I talked with her I put my eyes to the floor and I talked very low so she tell me, ‘Why do you talk this way?’ I tell her because I respect you. She tell me, ‘No, here it is different.’ You should look in my eyes when you talk with me. This is example. It is a small example but it mean much to people who don’t know the system here and it is hard for them. So that’s why I love to work with refugees. To make them know the system to make their life easier, if they know the system here and the tradition here. It is really a beautiful life and easy system if you know the way.”