“Hello, my name is Waleed and I am a Kentuckian from Basra, Iraq. I was born in a Christian neighborhood in Iraq with many people of different backgrounds and religions. I enjoyed growing up together and reading books with them.
In 2008 I started working for the US Military as an interpreter and cultural advisor. All of the soldiers were my best friends. I would relay logistical messages between the military and their contracted services. I would also provide cultural details that helped the military integrate better into the community. It is very dangerous for interpreters to live in Iraq if they have been helping the US military. Even our families were in danger.
After being threatened, I decided that I needed to escape Iraq in order stay alive. The US military provided 6 or 7 recommendation letters for me to escape to the US. The application process took me 5 years to complete because of all of the screenings. With the US military’s support I completed the refugee resettlement process and arrived in Ohio in 2014. Then I moved to Kentucky in 2016 because I have friends here.
People of Kentucky are always smiling and ready to help and look at you as a human which was something I was missing in Iraq. I feel like I can have the American dream here. My dream is to start my own business here, like I did in Iraq. I want do something good and help the people here while respecting the law and constitution of America. My wife and four children are still in Iraq and I worry about their safety.
We all deserve to live in decency. I applied last year for my wife to come and she has been approved by Homeland security but is still waiting on a visa. I look forward to the day we can all be reunited together in safety and continue living the American dream. We will all live together as Kentuckians.”