They Were Just Factory Workers

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Factory workers. Throughout our country’s history, they were viewed as lower-class people. Uneducated. Worn-down clothing. Leaving work smelling of sweat and filth. Working long hours, repeatedly doing mundane tasks. They were just factory workers. What could they possibly teach others?

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Lessons Learned Through Sacrifice

       Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith

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As parents we will make any sacrifice for our children.

is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.” Today I was honored with receiving an e-mail that captured my attention. We often say we are busy, and it is true, this society is way too busy (but yet not too busy to scroll down social media several times a day). However, today I chose (Key word there! We all have choice.)  to take the time to read an article that demonstrated the sacrifice of a set of refugee parents. An article that captures true sacrifice, loyalty, wisdom and love.

Instead of providing a summary, I am going to provide a link to the article here. This allows me the opportunity to share with you why this article, Their Father Fled Death in Iraq; Now His Sons are Saving Lives in Phoenix (author: Dianna M. Nanez), explicitly depicts a family’s true sacrifice to give their children a life of hope. As I read through the words and became flooded with emotions, here are the points that stood out the most to me:

– People seem to have forgotten that there are thousands of people who are still living with the effects of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Iraqis are often now masked by media reports of terrorist groups (I will ignore the name on purpose.), but we fail to acknowledge the fear that people lived in for years. So before judging someone in your country when you hear they are from Iraq, instead remind yourself that, more likely than not, you have no idea what it was like to live in a country where you felt you had to flee for your life.

– The father, Akram, instilled in his children a love for their family’s country. Although the children were born in different countries, they understood where their family came from and they developed a sincere bond to their heritage. So often, in America, it feels like people come to this country and replace their cultural identity. It’s a beautiful thing to embrace a new country, while maintaining a love for your culture.

– Families are destroyed by war. It is not just the soldiers who are fighting. The families are also impacted. War often splits apart families. It takes such sacrifice to leave your family, or to be the one who lets your child try to escape. To love someone so much…and yet know that you must split apart so that you, or your loved one, has a chance at a brighter life. Unimaginable.

– The power in a name. The first born’s name is Moustapha; this means “the chosen one” in Arabic. I find it interesting to see how the meaning of his name impacted his actions throughout his life (you’ll have to read the article for details). In cultures around the world, names carry significant meanings and these names contain stories. Moustapha’s name lead to a story that is motivational and encouraging when we look at sibling sacrifice and love.

– The father’s sacrifice had another added challenge because he earned an engineering degree, but was unable to use it in his new country. I have seen this struggle for many refugee fathers (though it can be mothers as well). They are used to being the providers for the family. They studied for many years and then worked in their field for many more years. Then, after being resettled in a new country, it is like starting all over again. Only many times you must also learn a new language, figure out how to fit into a new culture, discover the environment where you are now living, learn about the banking/housing/healthcare/etc., all while trying to get a new job. You have maintained your old skills, but work history and educational degrees from several years ago are rarely of interest to new employers. I see the heartbreak and discouragement as fathers try so hard to provide for their families, while starting from the bottom all over again. It happens to the ones who had been doctors, teachers, accountants, mechanics, the list goes on. Now working many hours each week at entry level jobs to provide for one’s family, such a deep sacrifice.

– While inspiring his entire family, Akram built a new future in a new country (again, you will have to read the story for more details…it’s a great read!). His children could build upon his strength and determination. Although the odds may have been against him, he worked hard to ultimately teach his children that the sacrifice was worth it.

– This is a perfect, and not rare, story of how refugee parents work tirelessly to develop skills in a new country to become productive members of society. This family modeled strong work ethic and their children continue to model that same trait. The family did not try to live off of a government system, they did not use lack of language as an excuse, they did not give up due to lack of work history in a new country… they worked harder to succeed than many people have ever had to push.

– A piece that some people may overlook was that the family, who practices Islam, chose to put their children in a Catholic school. This is worthy of noting because many times people are led to believe that religions separate and divide and that “those” people won’t interact with “those” people. Yet here is an example of a family from one faith, sending their children to a school that is structured around a different faith. They did not let religion sway them from what they felt would be the best educational choice for their children.

– There is a sense of true character spread throughout this entire story! Here are a few examples: A loyal respect for the decisions and advice given by parents. A genuine passion for the power of education and the places it can take you. The strength of love and commitment within family. A dedication to help the community around you. A strong belief in the power of prayer. Continued sacrifice by parents to provide the greatest future possible for their children.

 

Ahmeli… that we begin to see refugees the same as we see our friends and neighbors.

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