Country of Origin: Iraq
Hanaa and her husband Maytham are civil engineers from Baghdad, Iraq. More importantly, they are my parents - Ahmed Badr.
On July 25th, 2006, our home was bombed by militia troops. It was nighttime, and my parents had just re-entered our home after working in the garden.
Maytham was holding my sister Maryam in the kitchen. My mother, Hanaa, was near the dryer. The bomb found a place between them. It was a dud missile, designed to destroy but not explode.
I was not home at the time, I was spending the night at my grandparent’s. The missile entered our home through the bathroom window, pushed through the walls of the kitchen cabinet, and penetrated three natural gas canisters, leaving a gaping hole through each one. Luckily, we had emptied them out a few days before.
A week after this incident, we relocated to Syria, where we would spend the next two years. We lived in Aleppo and on the coast of the Mediterranean, in a small town called Jableh. We applied for refugee status, and after six months of interviews, we received a phone call informing us that we had four, one-way tickets to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
We landed in America on May 19th, 2008.
Since then, we have relocated to Houston, Texas. My father now works with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and my mother works for the City of Houston.
My little sister, Maryam, has just begun high school. Today, I am the host of the United Nations Migration Agency's TOGETHER podcast and the founder of Narratio; a platform for refugee youth empowerment through creative expression. I attend Wesleyan University, where I am a Fellow at the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.