By Amina Tahera
Jassem has three sons, 8-year old Kareem, 7-year old Ali and 5-year old Muhammad. The boys are playful and energetic. Their father tells me they like to pretend that they are Batman, Spiderman and Superman and that they will grow up to solve all the world’s problems. Undoubtedly they have faced some major ones, having lost their mother before coming here to the US. Jassem faces the same challenges as Fatima and Ahlam as a single parent, but being a single father, his rambunctious sons' play-induced minor scrapes and bruises have brought on some undue suspicion from daycare workers.
Like the others he attends complementary English classes, but his progress is impeded by having to stay home with the boys ( when they are off from school) and not having much prior knowledge of English. He has not yet learned enough to be able to get a job, let alone find work as an electrician, his occupation back in Iraq. I asked him to tell me anything about his life that will help people to understand his predicament. He said, “If someone lost his wife and had to care for his children alone, they could understand. Even those who didn’t, can imagine the challenges I face. I just want a chance to work hard and raise my boys so they can study hard and do well in life.” Right now he is trying to come up with the money for school uniforms for the three boys, on top of the usual rent, utilities and CTA card expenses.