World Refugee Day Events

Mohaned & Zainab (1/3)

We only want to live in peace and safety.

Written by Heather Esposito
Mohaned & Zainab
Mohaned & Zainab
Mohaned & Zainab

Story & Photography by Heather Esposito

There is something hard for me to admit but it needs to be said.  I was apprehensive when I first went to Mohaned and Zainab’s house. I guess the unfamiliar provokes anxiety in me. I kept thinking of the negative things I’d heard about refugees and Muslims mostly in the media — that their women are oppressed, that they don’t like Americans, that they want to rule the U.S. with Sharia Law, that they would judge me for not covering my head.

In my logical mind, I knew this information was mostly wrong. I knew that half of what I hear in the media is alarmist and just to get ratings. I have dear friends who are from the Middle East.  They are amazing, lovely people but, nevertheless, I was apprehensive.

I spend a lot of time spouting what I believe to be morally correct, righteous rhetoric about embracing those in need and not shunning those different from us. I truly believe we should remain a welcoming country, but I was still afraid. I am ashamed to admit this but I am admitting it, because as I sat in Mohaned and Zainab’s humble, simple home – embraced by their warm acceptance – I felt utterly humbled. Humbled because they welcomed me.  Humbled because they shared their story and their lives with me.

They are only one month away from having a new baby yet have nothing they need and very little means to get it. Their lives have been upended. They have lost all of their worldly possessions. They live in a simple, spartan home. They have lost their extended family. They have come to a foreign land where they struggle to communicate. They have to start over — from scratch.  Yet, in the midst of all that, they are so GRATEFUL. So relieved. So happy.

Mohaned said, “We are not here to get rich or pursue the American dream.  We only want to live in peace and safety.  We want our children to be safe and have a future.”

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