13 May 2008

Church helps Iraqi family in Kentucky

The couple decided to leave Iraq after Haithem's friend was shot dead while they were driving home from work together one evening. Haithem had worked as an interpreter with Iraqi and US security forces.

Although Ethar was born in London and holds a British passport, they were not granted permission to go to the UK. But after a 2-year application process they are now living in Lexington, Kentucky.

Haithem and Ethar.

When they first arrived, they slept on the carpeted floor of a completely empty apartment with blankets lent by a friend.

Haithem imagined he would get support from the local mosque in Lexington. They never returned his calls.

The family have now moved to a two-bedroom apartment, which is fully furnished and decorated with gifts from the local ecumenical church.

They have even provided toys and crayons and colouring books for the two children.

And they've been accepted by a local programme for refugees - which is paying their first three months' rent.

Four-year-old Farah.

Haithem is currently earning $6 an hour working at a burger bar, but it won't be enough to make ends meet. So he has applied for a high-paid job with a military defense contractor - back in Baghdad. Ethar and their two children will remain "home" in the US.

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