I was born in 2001 in Baghdad, Iraq. At this time my father was in the Iraqi army, and he told us that the U.S. was coming to help. Saddam Hussein lied about having weapons of mass destruction so that the United States would be scared. My family was happy because they needed Saddam dead. He was not good to the Iraqi people.

We were scared because of the war. Baghdad was a dangerous place to live. The U.S. soldiers used to come into houses and take the men to jail.  There were dead bodies in the streets, no water, no gas, and no power at times.

Things were not great in Baghdad because we didn’t have a lot of money.  We all lived in one room and we all got sick, but we were happy because my father was with us.

My father found a better job working with his friend from school, and we found another house. We were so happy!  It had a bathroom, and we could take showers.  Then two years later, my father went back to the army because we needed more money.  There were a lot bombs close to my house at that time. One day, bombs went off that were really close, and I was under the window when they exploded. My dad pulled me back, and almost the glass went in my face. This is why we had to move to another house. It was nice and good and we didn’t have any problems.  But then we had a bigger problem.

My father was Sunni, and when he went back to the army we couldn’t say to the people that my father was in the army because they would put bombs in my house or take me or my father.

One day, my father was sitting outside and my uncle looked at him and said, “You need to get inside. If someone sees you, they’re going to shoot you!” We were all scared. If someone knocked on the door my father couldn’t open the door, just me or my mom could. He couldn’t go to the market. One day I needed a drink. I told my father, but my mom told him, “You can’t go. Please.” My grandmother had to go get me one.

At the funeral of my uncle, they tried to take my father away, but my other uncle helped him.

One day, 2 bombs were under the tank that my father was driving.  They blew up, but he did not die. A month later, I was in my house, and I opened the door.  I saw my father and half of his face was bleeding.  He was ok, but he couldn’t hear out of his left ear.

A month after that, in 2008, my father died in the army.  This is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.  We talked to him the night before, and he was planning to come home in the morning.  He was going to bring two white birds home for me.  He did this every month, and together we would let the birds go flying away.

At that time I knew I would not have a dad again.  In the morning they called my mom and told her he died. When they told me, I was outside and needed to go to school. After that, we didn’t have dad, or money, or food, but my uncle helped us a lot.

When I was a kid I didn’t know anyone like me who didn’t have a father. Why just me?  I cried and told everyone I needed my father.

In the mornings when I walked to school, I didn’t know if someone was going to take me away from my family or if a car would shoot at me, but I walked with my friends so we were not scared. People told my uncle, “Don’t worry, we are not going to kill Mohammed.” I was there, and I saw what he said. My mom was scared and worried about me.  Her face it was yellow.

When my father died, a school was hard for me.  After school, I got in fights with other people.  I know you will say, “WHY?” I fought because they said bad words to me, so this made me fight. 

I’m never going to say my friends are bad or all the people there are bad. I like Iraq very much, and the people, my friends, they are really good. If just one or two people are bad, that doesn’t mean all the country is bad. I like my uncle, and I care about my family. I need them around me. I don’t want anyone to hurt. I need to take them to a safe place.

One day my grandfather told my family about IOM (International Office for Migration). When he told us about that, we didn’t think it was real.

When we came to the U.S., it was snowing when I got out of the airplane. It was great, but the first day I couldn’t go out.  I was scared about going to the school. I didn’t speak English. My sister wanted to go back to Iraq. She cried all the time.

But now I like this time.  It is really good. I like my friends, and I speak English.  It is hard to buy a car, though. My mom got work, and we need go step by step. We got better when my mom got her license. Thank God for this good year. Maybe we will get better and better every year.

When I came here I needed to do what my father needs me to.  I told him I would be a pilot someday. I have to do this, and I need to go back to Iraq and tell him I’m a pilot. This was his dream, and all my family knows this. The last thing I need to say is thanks to all people for helping me.