Zeyad was my interpreter when I was stationed at a FOB (Forward Operating Base) in the Green Zone in Central Baghdad in 2004. I was attached to an infantry unit and Zeyad was one of our interpreters, going out into the neighborhoods of a war torn city helping our soldiers earn trust among the population while also gaining important intel.
Zeyad and I have been friends for almost 15 years. We talk often about our families, our friends, and the state of the world. Zeyad is currently a Pediatrician in Baghdad and after waiting for three years his SIV (Special Immigration Visa) has finally been approved. The SIVs are a specific type of Visa awarded to Interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan who risked their lives to help the US Military. Visas have been approved for Zeyad, for his daughter Mayar who is 7, his son Mohammad who is 4, his wife Kindah. They are still waiting for the visa for his mother, Kameela, and once it is approved she will join them. The family will be living in Raleigh, North Carolina with a friend that was also an interpreter.
To many people this may not seem like such a big deal but I assure you it was. Zeyad put his life on the line for the soldiers he was interpreting for every day. Zeyad became my friend during this time. Several times we were on missions together but our friendship grew as we walked our FOB together. I was only 21 years old and I had so many questions, Zeyad answered them, patiently, and sympathetically. When he had questions, I answered them. We were always together. It got to the point where Iraqi soldiers called us brother and sister, when we weren’t together people would ask where the other was.
The money I hope to raise will be used simply: Plane tickets for him and his family from Baghdad to North Carolina (one way woo hoo!) That alone will be 3-4 Thousand dollars. As Zeyad settles in with his family I hope to provide enough money for him to have the first and last month's rent, as well as a deposit and all the other fees you get stuck with when getting a new appartment. Also, they will have very little money, so this will help provide a bit of a safety net for them as they adjust and find work.
Zeyad can see the fund and how much has been raised for him and his family. I will open a seperate bank account to which he will have access. Once he is here, it will all be transfered over to him. I will be visiting North Carolina in the next few months to meet his sponsor family and provide the bank information for Zeyad.
I really hope that people can spare just a little bit, and if not, maybe just share the link. Zeyad is wonderful and he deserves the best life possible. He put his life on the line for Americans and for the US. It's time we repay him.
- Gareth Weaver
- Elizabeth Van Hall
- Sheryl Sparkles
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