To know my story is to also know my parents’ story. They met while working in the Kurdish-Iraqi opposition, fighting against Saddam Hussein’s regime. I was born October 7th, 1996. Just a month before I was born, my parents had to separate to seek safety from Saddam Hussein’s army, which had been ordered to execute anyone who was part of the opposition.
While my dad led a group into the Kurdish mountains, my mother traveled from northern Iraq to Damascus, Syria. During this time, she had no contact with my father, wasn’t sure if he was alive, had no job, half of her face paralyzed, and most importantly, she was starting to lose hope.
Once she went into labor and was in the operating room, she could hear a phone ringing in the distance. She wasn’t sure if she was hallucinating, but somewhere deep inside she was hoping it was my father calling. After she woke up from her C-section, a nurse came in and said, “Your husband is on the phone.” Just hearing that sentence gave her strength and the confidence to know that everything would be okay because her husband was alive.
After they spoke, my father said he wanted to name me Lana. Lana in Kurdish means nest, and he believed they were two birds that would reunite at their nest. The hospital my mother gave birth in was called the Hope Hospital, and that’s exactly what my parents were gifted with. They didn’t have a home or stability, but they had me, each other, and they had hope.
My parents finally reunited in Iraqi Kurdistan 46 days after I was born. Over a year later, my brother was born. Right before his birth, my parents had to separate again for safety and they didn’t meet again until six months later. Although my parents were passionate activists, they knew they had to put our family’s safety first, so they applied to immigrate to the United States.
After we moved, my family started over with nothing, but my parents still had so much strength and hope as they took care of my brother and me. We had each other, and that’s what mattered most.
After we got our U.S. citizenship in 2007, my parents made the difficult decision to actually move back to Iraqi Kurdistan. They were still passionate activists and humanitarians, so they jumped back in to work at different organizations, supporting communities that have experienced violence and displacement. They experienced war first hand, and they wanted to make sure those who had also suffered from it weren’t alone and were given hope.
I was in middle school when I went with my mother to see the start of Preemptive Love’s work. She helped fundraise for doctors who travel and do heart surgeries for children who had heart diseases. We brought food and drinks, and I got to hear each family’s story.
I continued to volunteer whenever I could with any work my mother was doing, and after moving back to the States in 2013, I made sure to volunteer and fundraise throughout high school and college to support various charities. As I was graduating from college, Preemptive Love had a job opening for their Development team, and I applied and got the job!
In the past three and a half years, I’ve been gifted with the opportunity to connect thousands of donors and volunteers with the work we do. I don’t just do this work because I want to, but because I know I need to. Because I know I was born with the purpose of spreading hope to others, just like I did for my parents.
Connecting donors and volunteers with our programs is the most hope-instilling work I’ve ever done because it shows me I’m not alone on this journey. It’s what gives me a sense of peace, and I know it brings peace to thousands of communities across the globe.
If you are already on this peacemaking journey with us, thank you. If you are new to this journey, will you give me the opportunity to welcome you? I would love to show you how each one of us has a chance to instill hope and create a more beautiful world for us all.
Join us in doing the work of peacebuilding with heart, humanity, and hope.