“I heard a loud boom and then saw orange fire with sparks of white shimmering off the home next to me,” Abdul said, “people were screaming. The air was thick with soot. A man came running to my door. He said it was no longer safe for my family to be here. This was the only home I had ever known, this was Baghdad.”
On that night nearly ten years ago, Abdul grabbed his wife and woke his three little girls—all under the age of 7. The house was on fire. There was no time to pack or find family mementos. In their pajamas, they made their way through the alleys and dark corners of Baghdad. They had nothing but they had each other.
For four years, they waited at a refugee camp near the border. They taught their children what they could without paper or books. They sustained themselves on rice and water. They got used to saying goodnight while laying on the dirt floors of the tent.
Exhausted, frightened, and nearly hopeless, they landed in Virginia on a cold December night. Abdul reminded his family that they were lucky. They had gotten out when many of their friends had died or were still waiting for refugee status to leave the camp. This was their opportunity to rebuild. Although they were scared and unsure, they followed LSS/NCA staff out of the airport, into a van, and eventually to their new apartment door. They had no choice but to believe in our community. There must be a better future and better people than what they had left behind.
Inside the apartment, they found pots and pans, sheets and towels, soap and shampoo, lamps and mattresses—all items donated to his family by his new neighbors. In the back bedroom, Abdul collapsed to the floor. His youngest had not slept on something soft since she was 1 years old. Suddenly, they had everything. The pillows, the welcome home sign, the winter coats—they gave Abdul something money couldn’t buy: hope, peace, and faith in a future for his children.
Proud to call America his home, Abdul is now a translator for the US Army and his children are on the honor roll in high school.
Every year, LSS/NCA resettles over 400 refugees. These individuals come to America fleeing their homes, their nations, and their families, hoping for the chance to find a life free of persecution. If you have the ability to help furnish an apartment or offer in-kind donations for newly arriving refugees, please contact Jessica at CuellarJ@lssnca.org