Iraqi militia murdered Mohammed Al Hraishawi’s work driver. His address was known and his family of nine children ranging from a year old to 15-years old was in danger. On December 13, 2017, they packed their bags and left the rough two-million person populated southern Iraq port city of Basra to the 130,000 midwestern city of Columbia, Missouri.
The family received aid from local immigrant aid groups for the first year of their relocation, but after two years in the US, Mohammed is having trouble financially supporting his family, as his wife doesn’t speak English well enough to work and has to look over the toddlers, cook and clean the two apartments they rent from public housing. In Iraq, he worked as a supervising electrical power engineer for the US Army Corps of Engineers. The master’s degree he got in Iraq doesn’t translate to US work qualifications which leaves him unable to fully support his large family—so he has to travel to and from Iraq for months on end to make enough money. While Mohammed is away, his three oldest children, Narjes, Hussein, and Abbas, are left with the duty of acting as parental figures for their siblings and help navigate the problems their family faces while still trying to grow up as regular teenagers in an area they weren’t born into. “It's hard to take this decision," said Mohammed. "Of course, it's hard for me to be away from my family."