The arrival: January 2010.
The job: Housekeeper at the Cosmopolitan. Her husband takes care of the family’s two children. “I know better English than him,” she says. “So we decided it was best that I work.”
The story: Mahran’s troubles began when she accepted a job as a secretary with the U.S. government in Baghdad’s Green Zone. “It was interesting when [the U.S. military] came,” she says. “They looked like they came from the moon, because we never see people who look different from us. But they were good to us.” Working for the Americans, though, was a high-risk job. “I was getting a lot of death threats,” she says. “People would call me and say they would kill me. Friends of mine disappeared, and we know they were killed because they were considered traitors.” The intimidation continued, and finally Mahran applied for refugee status for her and her family.
The message: When she arrived in Las Vegas and got assistance from Catholic Charities, she was shocked to see how the organization helped people from all religions. “That doesn’t happen in Iraq,” she says. She’s happy to be able to focus on things other than staying alive. “It is important to me that I keep my job,” she says. “And hopefully one day I can buy a house.”