In this ongoing series, Voices from the List, we will talk to a number of Iraqis that came to the U.S. with aid from the List Project. Throughout the course of this series, we will seek to learn the stories of some of these incredible Iraqis, as well as their opinions on a variety of issues.
To begin the series we will be discussing an Iraqi who worked with Coalition forces from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 until his relocation to the United States earlier this year:
Badia [redacted] does not look like a man who has seen the horrors of war in Iraq. Yet here he sits, a refugee in a new and sometimes overwhelming country. In addition to his own relocation, he has gone through the process of bringing his mother and father to the U.S. as well. Less than a month ago he was able to reunite with them for the first time in almost eight years. To top off this whirlwind, he has just today gotten his Green Card. Even with all he has been through, he is a happy man.
Badia is one of many Iraqis that the List Project has helped relocate to the United States. And like every Iraqi who has come here as a refugee, he has a story that is uniquely his own.
Badia was born in Basra, Iraq’s southern port city. When he was young, his father took Badia and his family to Egypt to escape Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime. Like many other Iraqi dissidents, Badia’s father and his family lived in a variety of different places during their exile. Badia, who has called Egypt, Libya and Syria home over the course of his lifetime finally returned to Iraq in 2002, following rumors of the imminent demise of Saddam’s regime. Here, he traded his time between Damascus and the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, waiting for the best time to return home.
Badia arrived in Iraq shortly after the initial American/Coalition forces invasion, and quickly found a job translating for British forces stationed in his birthplace of Basra. He found a niche as a translator, and greatly endeared himself to his comrades. from 2003 to 2010 he worked with coalition forces in Basra, doing daily patrols and skirting death all too frequently.
After the British pullout from Basra, Badia began working with the United States Army in September of 2008. Reflecting on his time with British and American soldiers, and the brotherhood that he developed with these men, Badia says that
I am like them, in reality…I am a civilian interpreter but in fact I’m a soldier. I do what they do, I live in the same place with them 24/7. I eat the same food, I go to the same gym. The only thing I didn’t do was shooting.
Badia still keeps in regular contact with many of his comrades, mostly through e-mail. Unfortunately he says that none are in close enough proximity that he can visit, and many of his friends are no doubt still serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Badia is extremely grateful for their service and credits them for helping him get to the United States, a dream he says that he has had since he was a boy.
This is only the introduction to Badia’s story. Throughout the next few weeks we will provide more details on his experiences both in Iraq and in the United States.
Stay tuned for part 2.