Hayder Abdulwahab's life as a refugee can be traced to the day he awoke on a pile of bodies in a Baghdad morgue. That morning in 2004, he had stepped onto the balcony of his apartment, a 26-year-old Iraqi man ready for work. He was a bodyguard for an American employee with the U.S. military. But American soldiers in the street warned him to stay inside. In that moment, a car bomb exploded, shredding his body with metal and launching him on a journey to a small apartment near Tampa. Along the way he would endure broken promises from people he trusted, he would beg for help and hate himself for having to beg, he would struggle to decipher a bureaucracy that seemed indifferent to the medical care he needed most. In short, he would become like the thousands of other Iraqi refugees who have been brought to the United States, who have traded the physical danger of their home for the financial insecurity of forging a new life in a country weighed down by recession. They are brought here by a national refugee system that is ill-equipped to help them once they arrive. It is an existence so disorienting and frightening that some of the Iraqi refugees have contemplated returning to the violence in Iraq just so they could earn enough to support their families.
Excerpt of written story by Saundra Amrhein.