I’m a Muslim woman who lives in the United States. I came 13 years ago with my husband and finally got my citizenship in April, 2017.
Originally from the Middle East, I have a rich roots in Palestine and my family is there. I also have my own life here in the US with my husband and his family. I have lots of friends in the Middle East where I grew up, and I also have a lot of friends here in the United States from different backgrounds – Muslims and non-Muslims.
I am a bridge builder - a community person. I like being with all different communities of people and hearing their stories – hearing their struggles and pain in trying to connect them to resources. It doesn’t matter their background. What matters for me is that he or she is a good person with a good heart. This is who I am.
As a Muslim American who lives in the United States, I am concerned if people will accept me as a female Muslim minority who wears a headscarf and practices my own religion.
This is a free country – we have freedom here. But we still have fears as minorities. As immigrants and refugees.
When I take my kids to see their grandparents in Palestine, I am told by people in the airport that I visit too much. But it’s important for my children to know their family.
I am American. And I am Palestinian. So while I have concerns about integrating here, I also have concerns about how U.S. policy my family in Palestine. So I am in the middle - trying to care about everything.
My faith is the main source for power that gives me strength. The second thing that gives me faith and hope is remembering the lives of my parents.
As Muslims, we pray a lot. And have a strong belief that Allah will never leave us alone. We believe that the day that you were born, all of your life was written by God. So you need to accept yourself the way that God created you.
I always think about my children’s future. I was think about my future and my kids future. What I wish for all people and my children is to live with peace.
I did not get the good life that my kids have here in the United States. It’s a very safe country. My life was different - I lived under war. I don’t have stories that I can share that are pleasant. I hope that my kids will be the kind of people who hear the voices of others - who recognize the suffering - and who want to help.
Americans have much to be grateful for - they live in peace. I did not live in peace before. So I wish that my kids future will be better than my future.
My grandmother and father used to say this during the war, whenever we faced a very bad crisis, “I wish your future is better than my future.” I think he was correct – my future was better than his.
ON HEALING AND GIVING BACK
I lost my mom five years ago to Lou Gehrig’s disease. And wasn’t able to be there when she died. We lost her very young - she was sixty. Her death was devastating to me.
I wanted to bring her here to have access to good medical help and support, but couldn’t make it happen because of all of the political issues here.
Then one day, someone in the community called to see if I wanted to be involved in helping to build a healing garden for cancer patients and families who’ve lost their loved ones.
And I thought about my mom.
So we had a big celebration as part of our wedding vow renewal celebration. Many women came from all different faiths. And instead of presents, I invited everyone to contribute so we could adopt a tree in the healing garden together. They loved the idea. Many of the women had lost their mothers to cancer.
So now we have a tree.
Now I feel that I’m healing a lot of what I saw before I came to the US, and my mom’s death. This is what I have learned: When you help other people then your own pain will heal.