I recall driving through Huntsville, not knowing where I was going or what to do next. All I could think about was is something I can do to change my life. I was very young, lost, alone, with nowhere to go besides the arms of God; driving, crying, and praying to God for direction toward what to do next.
I found myself parked outside First Baptist Church for reasons that escape me now – 20 years later. I remembered that almost 3 years prior, I would go there for English classes. One of my teachers was the preacher’s wife. I sat in the car – not remembering his name, not knowing what they can do for me or why, but I felt a need to go in. I remember walking through the church, looking through the pictures on the wall to see if I can find his name. Finally, I found it. I looked for the office, went in and asked to speak to him. I was 5 months pregnant with my small son with me. He agreed to see me, and we sat in his office. His first question was, “What can I do for you?”
If you know me, then you know that English was not my best. I said, “I don’t know. I was driving, and I ended up here, but I don’t know why.” I started to try to leave but he said, “You came here for a reason, what it is?”
With tears running down my face, I told him, “I am leaving my husband, and I am going back to Yemen after I have my 2nd child to raise them there. My husband didn’t want another child, but I do, and things are bad at home. I don’t know if my family back home would welcome us either.”
He asks what I’ll do when I get back to Yemen. I told him that I want to raise my chil- dren, go to school, and be on my own. He said to me, “Great, then you have a plan. What skills do you have?”
I looked down and said nothing. I had never worked or done anything in my life other than being a wife. But, he smiled and said, “Well, you have 4 months before you go home. Why don’t you learn some skills to help you when you go back? We have a class that is starting next week Monday – Thursday. They teach how to use a computer, balance a check book, make a budget.”
I was excited. I said, ”Okay, what do I need to do?” When he told me it was called Christian Women’s Job Corps, I knew I wouldn’t fit in. “I’m not a Christian,” I told him, “I won’t fit.”
He told me that he realized that I am a Muslin, but these classes are for all women, not just Christians. “We call it Christian Women’s Job Corps because our teachers and volunteers are Christians.
Let’s find a place for you.”
By 7:00 that night, I got a call that they had a spot for me. In that moment, I felt as though I’d never been happier. I was the first one there every morning and did not miss a class. CWJC was my first step to learning what I can do.
Completing that course is one of my best achievements. Because of that I know I can do anything.
The group I was with was a big help, and we had mentors who were there for us every step. Everyone has a story, and it made my problems seem easier to face. Now I can see I am not the only one struggling to find who they are.
I know that may be a cliché to say but those classes changed my life. All my life, I’d heard, “You are not smart; you can’t do anything; you’re just a mom and a wife. You know nothing when it comes to dealing with finance and household responsibility”.
I could not have gotten where I am to- day without the support of CWJC. I learned the right foundation and mindset to start my life again and have the tools to use. I was determined to finish my education. It was not easy, and took a few years before I was able to go to college, but I did not give up. I went back to school when my son was in high school, I’ve earned my bachelor’s degree and master’s on Foreign Policy and International Trade. Since then I have been blessed having a job that I like and enjoy doing.
Looking at my children now and seeing everything we have gone through together, I can’t say anything, but only with God on my side was I able to get where I am today. My son is 22 years old and in his last year of college, and my 19-year-old daughter is going to her second year in college.