[Pictured above, Mohammed shares his story at Philadelphia’s World Refugee Day celebration held last year at City Hall.]
JEVS Human Services was featured in an article from the Jewish Exponent that talks about our 75 years of service to our community, President & CEO Jay Spector’s thoughts on the future of our organization and the story of a remarakable client turned JEVS’ employee.
Mohammed was just 19 years old in 2006 when he took the job–as an interpreter with the U.S. Marine Corps–that would profoundly alter the shape of his life. Despite the everyday threat of mortar fire, the English-speaker worked with American troops because he wanted to participate in the shifting fortunes of his country.
But he quickly became a target of insurgents who resented his collaboration with the U.S. With his life in danger, he fled to Jordan, leaving family members behind. He returned to Iraq in 2011, got married and had a baby daughter, and started work as an air traffic controller. But once again, his work history with the Marines caught up with him.
“I was threatened many times,” he said. “I couldn’t stay there because it was dangerous for me and for my family.”
This time he fled for good, moving from place to place and filing multiple applications for four years before he was granted access to the United States.
He arrived here in December 2014, and though he spoke English, he was otherwise at sea–luckier than some of his friends at the refugee camp, but still overwhelmed by starting a new life.
“I needed someone to guide me,” he said, “and the Welfare office referred me to JEVS.”
Read more of Mohammed’s story and the history of JEVS in the Jewish Exponent.