World Refugee Day Events
Iraq

Mohaned & Zainab (3/3)

In September 2016, Mohaned & Zainab arrived in Binghamton, Alabama with nothing.

Written by Heather Esposito
Mohaned and Zainab with their family
Mohaned and Zainab with their family
Mohaned and Zainab with their family

Story & Photography by Heather Esposito

In September 2016, Mohaned & Zainab arrived in Binghamton, Alabama with nothing. But they knew someone from the local American Civic Association would meet them and get them set up. They were promised 60 days of support from the ACA, which helped them find a place to live and get basic furniture.  After 60 days they are on their own — 60 days to assimilate to a new culture and a new country, to learn a language and start their lives over.  I have thought what it would be like if I were in the same situation, only in reverse.  What if tomorrow I had to leave everything I know, everything I own, and move to Iraq with my family?  How foreign and scary!

Mohaned and Zainab are private people and are leery about making a lot of friends. They are still worried about who they can trust. I am so grateful they trusted me enough to share their story in such a public way.  It shows tremendous faith on their part. Through their interpreter, Abas, they asked me to relay the following message:

“We’re grateful to the American people for helping us. We are grateful to the department of Social Services for helping us get on our feet. Special thanks to the American Civic Association, especially to Abas for helping us communicate, arranging appointments, and helping us adjust. We are so grateful to be here in America. We have a new life.”

Mohaned & Zainab’s 4th child – a girl — will be born an American citizen and, God willing, will never know the horrors of war and terrorism the rest of her family has endured.

Informed Consent

Our team members obtain informed consent from each individual before an interview takes place. Consent forms are translated and explained in the individual’s primary language. Individuals dictate where their stories may be shared and what personal information they wish to keep private. In situations where the individual is at risk and/or wishes to remain anonymous, alias names are used and other identifying information is removed from interviews immediately after they are received by TSOS. We have also committed not to use refugee images or stories for fundraising purposes without explicit permission. Our top priority is to protect and honor the wishes of our interview subjects.

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