Um Khalid

Um Khalid has an ideal situation for an Iraqi refugee. She’s an engineer working in the private sector who’s married to a Jordanian Sunni. She had a satisfying life living in Amman, Jordan that was quite balanced between caring for her kids and working in their family “water purification device” business. However, as prices got higher in Jordan following “The Kuwait War” and her longing for her homeland got more intense, her family moved to Baghdad. Even during the sanctions, they did well economically since they had their own company. Those who were working for the government at that time had their salaries reduced to a pittance, which of course led to widespread corruption. Read more »

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Rawa is Um Rami’s oldest daughter. Her older brother is 19, she is 16 and her other brothers and sisters are eight and eleven. I met her while at Zahra’s house one day when she and her mother dropped by. While Um Rami and Zahra were working out some plans, Rawa began plying me with questions about English. Her English and my Arabic were at about the same level, so we had a great time trying to understand each other and exchanging vocabulary. Read more »

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Differing Perspectives

A few weeks ago I said I’d write about different groups having different perspectives.

My last interview in Jordan was unsettling. It wasn’t with a woman but a sweet, gentle man who had worked as a translator for the US forces. This man, Abu Muber* loves America, and during his year working with the US soldiers he was treated with more respect than he had ever received in his life. He’d worked for the British and been treated like a low-level lackey and so quit after a few months to translate for the Americans. He was a great asset, translating the deeper meanings and giving insight into the Iraqi culture and mind-set rather than just giving verbatim translations. In mid-2004, an envelope with three bullets in it was delivered to his house. He had been discovered to be a collaborator and the extra bullets were a warning that it wasn’t only he who was at risk. So, he quit and moved his family to Jordan where he’s currently waiting for his visa application to be processed. It costs $565 or $755 per person, depending on the type of immigrant visa one applies for. The truth is that although he has many glowing recommendations, he is unlikely to get his wish and his money will be wasted. Read more »

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