“Having this opportunity to become an American is just amazing because in the States, you can become whatever you want.”

Al | Design Engineer

“That would have never happened if I was still in Iraq. In Iraq, after the war, there was a lot of extremism and there was a lot of terrorism. My mom is a dentist. My dad had a couple machine shops. Terrorist groups wanted to take money from my dad. People tried to kidnap me from in front of my house. They tried to kidnap me from my school. They burned down my mother’s medical center. It reached to the point like, that’s it. We have to leave.”

“When you apply to become a refugee, whatever country decides to accept you, you have to go there. They ask you about every single detail of your life - passports, IDs, background checks, full body checks, multiple interviews. The process took from 2008 to 2012 just to get approval to enter the United States. We touched down at Chicago. I turned to my mom and was like, ‘Are we really here?’ I was like, ‘Is that States? We flew to the States? We’re not going back?’ It’s going to be safe from now on. But, at the same time, it’s overwhelming.

“Imagine yourself in a totally new culture. You don’t have friends; you don’t know anybody. Nobody knows anything about you. The system is new and foreign. But at the airport, World Relief met us, and they helped me accelerate immediately. They told me, ‘We will support you. You go for it.’ They taught me how to make a resume, how to write a check, how to pay bills, English classes, job classes – everything that we need to know to start our own life.

“World Relief helped me find my first job. I was a machine operator. After five years of going to school part-time, I was able to get my Associate’s Degree in Automated Manufacturing Technology. And today I’m a design engineer and a part-time college instructor.

“Being here with my family… it’s a dream. I know they’re safe, and they know that I’m safe. Three months ago, I became a US citizen, which is really exciting. Now I’m an American. Achieving all of that, it’s just amazing. And it’s not just because I worked hard for it. World Relief guided me through the right path. They are my friends. These are the people that helped me become what I’ve become today.”