by Meghan Long, Communications Fellow
Hamsa redefines the meaning of hard work, perseverance, and independence. When she first arrived in Spokane in January of 2013, she was highly qualified in many areas; she possessed a degree in English from the University of Baghdad, had a thriving marriage, and had just had her first daughter, Lina.
While living in Iraq, Hamsa and her husband Masar both worked as translators for the US military after obtaining their degrees. Masar worked directly with the military as a speaking translator, and Hamsa worked as a writing translator for a company that produced newspapers and other articles.
However, the war was beginning to get very personal for the two of them. Because they were working with the US military, they were vulnerable targets for Al-Qaeda. They both felt increasingly unsafe in their neighborhood. “They were threatening Masar and his family,” Hamsa says. “I felt like there was no one to protect us. They left a letter on our front door with a bullet.”
After this happened, they knew it was time to get out of Iraq and find safety for themselves and their future family. After two years of waiting, they finally were approved to move to the United States. They came straight to Spokane to begin their new journey.
They both enrolled in the Spokane Community College English as a Second Language program soon after arriving to Spokane. “I passed the written courses in two weeks, but speaking was hard,” Hamsa says. “For my husband, it was the opposite; he spent two years translating for the army, so he could speak very well, but writing was hard for him.” Regardless of their struggles, both of them stood out in the program because of their college education.
In 2015, Hamsa and Masar both enrolled the Vascular Technology program at Spokane Community College. They graduated from the program in 2018. Unfortunately, they did not find jobs right away, though they were very capable. “I had one interview,” Hamsa says. “But I didn’t make it. But where I trained, at Holy Family, they offered me an on-call job…. It’s basically a part time job, though. They call me almost every day.”
Hamsa is expecting another girl in early November, and has been working diligently to provide a warm, fun upbringing for her daughters in Spokane. Her mother still hasn’t met five-year-old Haya, the youngest daughter. She wants her mother to come for the delivery of the new baby, but the current state of our refugee resettlement program might make this impossible.
To have someone as diligent and hardworking as Hamsa in our city is a gift. She has already made a great impact on our community because of her knowledge and ultimately because of her friendship. Against all odds, Hamsa and her family are building a successful, fruitful life in our community.