Iraqi Native Gives Back To American Red Cross In Oklahoma

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There was a team from the Red Cross and they handed my father a box of water bottles.

Imagine waking up to the sounds of explosions and screaming. Suddenly, your world is dramatically changed by conflict and war and your sense of safety is shaken. The images you see on the news are now your reality and you don’t know where to go for help in your time of need. Then, one day, a person wearing a Red Cross arrives along with food, water and many times the hope people need. Each day, volunteers with the International Services of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working to provide help and relief to those affected and displaced by such conflict. People like American Red Cross employee, Hiba Jameel. Her story begins in Baghdad, Iraq, under fearful circumstances.

“I grew up in Baghdad and lived through Desert Storm, the Embargo, Oil for Food Program, and I was 20 years old when Iraqi Freedom war started. I was a sophomore in college back then. At the end of the war, or a day after, there was knocking on the door. There was a team from the Red Cross and they handed my father a box of water bottles. They kept coming and delivering water to our apartment and the whole apartment complex, and all residential buildings for month…living through wars and experiencing firsthand the suffering of the civilians, the armed forces and Red Cross motivated me to help more. Moreover, the United States Armed Forces changed my life…I learned more English, life skills and was encouraged by service members to study more and learn about the world…I started researching for ways to help the armed forces and give back at least a fraction of their sacrifices which led to me having a better life.”

After being encouraged to pursue her master’s in the United States, Hiba now works with the American Red Cross as a volunteer services specialist for the Central and Western Oklahoma Region where she directly plays a part in helping others and giving back to those who helped her along the way.

When asked about what life has been like in Oklahoma and how she is able to help those who helped her, Hiba expressed joy and thankfulness.

“I did fall in love with Oklahoma and its people. Since day one, I received kindness and friendliness. I do feel that I am in my second home. I was looking for ways to help the armed forces and the people of Oklahoma, I found there is a way to do both, which is through the American Red Cross. I remembered how the Red Cross helped the Iraqi people after the war. Moreover, the achievements of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent speak for themselves. That was the perfect way I can give back to the people who made my life a better one, who saved my life and protected me from terrorism.”

Hiba had volunteered with the Red Cross in Oklahoma for a while before joining the staff, and has seen multiple disasters, like the May 2013 storms. She shared with us what has been the most rewarding part of working with the Red Cross after coming so far in her own personal life.

“My favorite part is all the services we provide. I recall being in the army base and meeting people who were in Iraq and exchanging stories. During the May tornados, seeing the smile of people when I tell them that there are ways we can help. On top of that, receiving a call from a gentleman we helped in tracing his family members in Libya, telling me that he was able to locate them is a moment of my life I will never forget.”

Hiba is one of the many special people who make the mission of the Red Cross become a reality. It’s a reality that isn’t happening far away or in remote locations, it is happening right here in Oklahoma, and the American Red Cross cannot accomplish this mission without people like Hiba, our many volunteers and the generosity of the American people. You can have an impact across the globe, even from your own back yard.

Learn more about International Services and Service to the Armed forces by visiting www.redcross.org.