Azad is a refugee from Mosul. In Mosul and Qaraqosh, he worked as a formwork carpenter in housing construction. He and his family lived comfortably when Azad’s carpentry business was booming. Like many families, when there wasn’t enough work, they had to squeeze to get by; but they were still living happy, peaceful lives.
“If we had work, we were fine. If not, we stayed home. The conditions were fine until ISIS appeared,” said Azad.
When ISIS invaded Northern Iraq, Azad and his three children, Haneen, Andy, and Maryam, were forced to leave Iraq and flee to Jordan.
“The day we left Qaraqosh, we had another family in the car with my family, my sister and her four children. We all had to get inside my car, and nine people could barely fit. The road was overcrowded with cars. Normally it takes one hour to travel to Erbil, but this trip took 11 hours. A road designed for only two cars had to fit 11 or 12 going across at once. It was really awful.”
Azad and his family settled in Madaba, Jordan as refugees. As Iraqi refugees, they are not allowed to work for a wage. Their ability to survive depends on organizations like American FRRME and the Olive Tree Center.
After having his livelihood taken, Azad needed to find purpose again. As a carpenter and handyman, also with agricultural experience, Azad’s skills have been indispensable to the Olive Tree Center. Azad is now the gardener at the center, and is participating in the programs and classes that the OTC offers refugees living in Madaba.
“When I came here, I was very happy, because there are two things that I love a lot, farming and carpentry. My father had an orchard over 30 years ago, and when Um Rama told me the Olive Tree Center needs a farmer, I was really excited and told her I love farming.”
Azad’s hard work has also helped to supply the local community with fresh produce.
“We’ve grown crops, and distributed them to Iraqi refugees, and they were extremely happy. My routine after all these years, I get up and have breakfast, and come to work in the center. I’m ready to help the refugee community as much as I can, and they know that.”
The center gives Azad and the other men a renewed purpose through gardening and carpentry projects, and helps develop job skills for when they can finally leave Jordan. Azad is now passing on his gardening skills to the other men, including his son, Andy. Andy has been able to participate in the music programs at the center, and has experienced a new richness in his walk with God through the adversity he has overcome:
“I want to thank the Center for giving me the opportunity to learn piano. Now I’m learning to play the guitar. My dream is to be a soccer player. Being able to emigrate to a country like Australia would allow me to have a fulfilling future. Because in Iraq I couldn’t achieve my dream, so I find here better than Iraq. My faith has been firm since ISIS, and even before ISIS, my faith was steadfast. My faith didn’t change. I walk with God.”
Azad and his family are still waiting in Jordan, struggling to get by as best they can. They, and countless refugees like them, need the hope, help, and healing that American FRRME helps to provide. Join our mission.
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