“I was raised in Iraq… specifically, in the Sinjar Mountain region. When I was a teenager, ISIS attacked us because we were not Muslim and they gave us a choice: either become Muslim, or lose your head. Fortunately, I got a chance to come to the United States because my brother was a translator for the army. ISIS ended up killing thousands of my people – the Yazidis – before we finally fled to the mountains. I stayed there for 8 days without food or water.

My family arrived in the U.S. in 2015. Within 1 month, my little nephew was killed in a car accident. Because of that tragedy, my family decided to leave Tucson to escape the memories… and I was intentionally left behind. I started high school without knowing any English and now, I am fluent. I will be graduating in May 2017. I want to go to college and know that I am going to study to become a pharmacist.

Through Youth On Their Own, I was able to stay in school. I have depended on the money I can earn through my good grades… every month, I religiously turn in my stipend request form and have never received below a 3.0 GPA. I also rely on the weekly trips to the Mini-Mall for food and clothing, especially after my family abandoned me. I wouldn’t have been able to get my diploma without the support of YOTO.”