Adil, his wife and two children came to the states from Iraq just five months ago. Once a teacher of English in his homeland, Adil had become a translator for American troops in Iraq, an extremely dangerous job. Iraqi interpreters risk their lives helping U.S. soldiers, and can become targets of insurgents. Interpreters who serve at least twelve months become eligible for a particular kind of immigrant visa, but acceptance takes time and is not guaranteed.
Now here in Pittsburgh, Adil works on the custodial team of a local country club, making $9.50 an hour. His wife Hanadi stays home to look after their son and daughter, Yousif 6, and Sama, 3—he says “Sama” means sky. Hanadi was a Spanish teacher in Iraq. Without assistance from the JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry, they wouldn’t be able to make it on just one salary alone.
Both Hanadi and Adil often think about how they can become teachers again, but it is a complicated process of acquiring U.S. college credits and then certification. Adil says he will begin the process, but is taking this first year to “figure things out.” Even though he speaks English well, there’s still an adjustment period while he learns about transportation, driver’s licenses, health care, school for his son, renting an apartment, where things are and how to get there, networking and making friends. And how much those college credits will cost.
Adil says he’s grateful to be in America, not just to be away from the destruction war has brought to Iraq, but somewhere he knows his children are safe. He says he misses his family – his mother, four brothers and five sisters still live in Iraq – but he and Hanadi are excited to start a new life, and above all, to live in peace, with the help of JFCS.