By Andriana Garrido, paralegal at Jo Ann Hoffman and Associates
*Names have been changed and faces blurred to protect the individuals involved.
I took a trip out to Iraq in July 2021, and was introduced to Moe, a remarkable Iraqi individual that risked his life to serve the US Army. His story took me on this journey that was too important not to share.
This is his story as told to me:
My upbringing in Baghdad, Iraq, was both dark and joyful. My mother recalls using a tied-up rag as a diaper for me when I was a baby because we had no money to afford anything better. When I turned 6 years old, it was a big deal because I could finally help my mother by watching my little brother while she went away to work as my father’s income was not enough. I took on the role of a caregiver at this age where I spent my days changing diapers and cooking food for my younger brother. I had a fire in me to break this generational curse of poverty and I was determined to turn it around. Despite living in poverty, I was grateful to be surrounded by loving family and friends that always helped to uplift me at my lowest. Things in my life took an unexpected turn when my father grew ill. He had to stop working so this put us in a financial hole and it became so bad, that we couldn’t even afford medication for him. At the age of 20, I started studying at Baghdad University, and it was in a class there, that I met an important person, Ali.
I formed a close bond with Ali, and he became my most trusted friend. Ali confessed that he had been working for the US Army as an Interpreter and he expressed that he saw potential in me and wanted me to join. It didn’t take much to convince me. By this time, I had seen so many wars and I was fed up with the conflict and terrorism. I watched the country of Iraq deteriorate at the hands of corrupt individuals. I had seen so many dead bodies and families lose everything they possess, being left with nothing but memories and remains of what was once home to them. Working with the US Army to help defeat terrorism, would have been an honor. I was 8 years old when I saw my first dead body laying in the streets of Iraq. In 1990, there was the war with Kuwait that left our country unstable. Then there was the war with Iran, followed by the war in 2002 that ultimately put the nail in the coffin for my country. I never knew what life was without a war. I reflected upon all of this when Ali asked if I would join him. It was an immediate yes for me. I so badly wanted to be a part of the solution despite how dangerous the task was. Continue reading →