Education Makes Refugee’s Dreams Possible

Nabaa Hashim (pictured with her family third from the left) was born in Iraq in 1997. Five years later she and her family sought refuge in the United States because her home was a war ground plagued by Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.

Nabaa is now a Denver Scholarship Foundation Scholar. Education, she said, is the key to her success and her family’s success.

In Iraq, Nabaa’s mother worked as phlebotomist for the United Nations. She served injured soldiers fighting to free Iraq from Hussein’s rule.

“My mom was kidnapped,” Nabaa said. “They didn’t like that she worked for the U.N.”

The Iraqi government, still ruled by Hussein, kidnapped Nabaa’s mother because she was aiding oppositional soldiers. Working for the U.N. under Hussein’s rule was not accepted. Many Iraqis were in danger, including Nabaa.

In 2003, shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Nabaa and her family decided they had to escape Iraq after her mother was freed from Iraqi capture.

“We escaped Iraq because we were threatened to be killed,” Nabaa said.

The escape looked like it came straight from a Hollywood production. Nabaa and her family used an escape route that included multiple cars, a ship, and two different countries.

“We had to change cars three different times,” Nabaa said. “We couldn’t be noticed by anyone.”

After the lengthy car escape, Nabaa and her family arrived at United Arab Emirates ship in the Persian Gulf where they were able to escape Iraq. After a short time on the U.A.E. ship, Nabaa and her family flew to Jordan where they applied for United States refugee status.

Over 12 years later Nabaa and her family reside in Denver where they are making a difference in their new community.

“We struggled for a while,” Nabaa said. “The U.S. doesn’t recognize Iraqi degrees, so my mom couldn’t work as a phlebotomist here.”

Nabaa’s mother worked as a house cleaner and hotel room cleaner while she studied for her degree in Denver. Now, she works as a case manager translating for Arabic families who are working to receive federal benefits.

All of this was for her children, including Nabaa who is now a Denver Scholarship Foundation Scholar.

“The Denver Scholarship Foundation will help me reach my goal. It will be smoother, less cracky,” Nabaa said.

Nabaa wants to empower young women like herself. She wants to help other Arab women realize there is oppotunity. But, she knows her college degree at the CU Denver is the key to making these dreams a reality.

“With the Denver Scholarship Foundation’s help it’s easier for me to have opportunity. It’s easier for me to gain my education,” Nabaa said.

Nabaa, like all Denver Scholarship Foundation Scholars, has a unique story that can make a difference in our community. She is working towards a degree that she believes will make her a successful member of the Denver community for many years.