American Life: From Iraq to Charlottesville a New Beginning
Afrah and her children look at pictures from Iraq. They left in 2009 to restart their lives in Charlottesville.
Afrah points out her husband, who was killed by gunmen outside their home in Iraq.
Many Iraqi families have fled the fighting in their country and have become refugees in neighboring nations, while others have had a chance to re-settle here in America.
For the first years of the Iraq war, Afrah Almalham and her husband tried to shield their children from the fighting right outside their home in Baghdad.
"But finally," Afrah explained, "we failed." Their lives changed forever after her husband became a victim of sectarian violence. He was lured outside of their home by gunmen and killed in a spray of bullets.
"I knew something was wrong," said Afrah. "I called his name, but he did not answer. When we went outside, he was laying down with all his blood on the ground."
In an instant, Afrah became a single mother of four in the middle of a country ripped apart by war.
"I looked to them. They don't have anyone else now besides me so I have to live for them," said Afrah.
She then began the lengthy process of re-settlement. When she was accepted, the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville got involved to help her start a new life.
Of all the people who apply for resettlement through a group like the United Nations...only a fraction are accepted to move to a safe place. Of the many requirements, a person has to be in a situation where it's impossible for them to remain in their home country.
Afrah was concerned for her children and herself, "I fear that someone will push the door and enter the house and kill or do something to me and the kids."
In 2009, Afrah and her children escaped the fighting in Iraq to start over in Charlottesville.
"I was happy to get my children finally to a safe place but at the same time, I was depressed, I will leave everything I know," she added.
Now, Afrah is working full time, her children are in school and they have found safety and a new beginning, living their American life.