“We’re grateful because we’re here. The United States opened doors for our safety.
We don’t have to lock our doors with five locks just to be safe. We don’t have to check our cars for bombs. We don’t have to hear kids cry because they lost family members.
We used to wake up every day expecting we would be killed. Here, we wake up every day like it’s our first day.”
-Zinah Ghazi, Iraqi refugee
Zinah’s eyes open. She sits up in bed.
Bombs are not unusual in Baghdad, but this one sounded close. Too close. She takes a deep breath to calm her pounding heart, then climbs out of bed to begin preparing for the day.
Life in Iraq had always been turbulent, as far back as Zinah could remember.
The Iran War.
But the latest war had given her hope that it might finally be the last; that American troops could secure peace for Iraq.
That would not be the case. Specially after the rise of ISIS and sectarian violence that led to claimed the life of Zinah’s older brother, “the twin of her soul.” Her parents were forced to flee and hide under special circumstances, leaving the 24-year old biology student to juggle both school and household duties.
Instead, what’s left of her broken family sleeps behind multi-locked doors. Every morning Zinah checks underneath their car for bombs before starting the engine, then checks again at red lights just in case.
Tragedy and anxiety replay in her head, over and over again. The loss of her parents. The loss of her brother. The bombs. The death threats.
Suddenly, she is approached. They put a gun to her head and ask her to identify as either Sunni or Shia. Zinah knows that the wrong answer will mean a quick end for her. She takes a deep breath and answers…
Zinah’s story doesn’t end there. She didn’t become another number on her nation’s growing death toll that day.
Tragedy and anxiety would not define her life. She would.
While she had lost nearly everything, she had not lost her dream: to be safe, and to be successful. That dream kept Zinah moving forward.
She earned a bachelors degree in biotechnology.
She took a modest job in retail, then worked her way up to become sales manager.
She took a job with the International Relief and Development to promote broad-scale human progress in Iraq.
And at the same time, she went back to school to pursue her Master’s in genetic engineering.
While she was successful, she was not safe. So when Zinah received a call that she and her siblings were approved to enter the United States as refugees, she left it all behind at the prospect of peace.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long before others recognized her drive, skillset, and impressive accomplishments. Less than a month after her plane touched down in Atlanta, Georgia, Zinah was hired by the prestigious Emory University School of Medicine—an accomplishment she is still proud of to this day. Three years later she experienced a disheartening setback—being laid off.
It was a moment, she shares, that almost broke her. Until she turned it into an opportunity to achieve yet another dream—attending school in the U.S.
At this point, she was a full-time student, full-time mom, and worked two part time jobs as an interpreter and after school instructor, and yet she still went on to graduate with her database specialist degree… earning a 3.9 GPA to boot.
“The past few years was a great time of self-discovery,” Zinah shares about the experience. “I discovered that I don’t need to follow my passion; my passion will always follow me. I discovered my priority is to add value to the community, and to make a positive impact.
As refugees, we come with all this motivation because we lived very hard times in Iraq, so we want to add value; we want to give back. Maybe other people already had a perfect life. We lived a terrible life. When we come and see all this opportunity, we really appreciate it and want to give back.”
Now, she’s giving back by way of helping other refugees find work.
After graduating, Zinah began searching for a full-time job that would utilize her newly attained skills. Despite several interviews that ended in job offers, one stuck out to Zinah the most—a unique staffing company with a unique mission—Amplio Recruiting.
“From the first moment I came here, I felt the positive energy.” Zinah explains. “Amplio’s vision matched mine. They know what they do; they know how to do it; and most importantly, they know why they do it. They want to help the [refugee] community. Chris created a company that supports other great companies.”
Their mission? Connecting great companies to the dependable Refugee Workforce. The result? A win-win solution for companies and refugees alike.
And Zinah couldn’t be happier to play a part.
While her official title is Administrative Specialist, she says the team refers to her as “The Ninja,” since she has proven she can do, fix, or learn just about anything.
Her smile is bright, and excitement contagious as she shares her favorite part of working for Amplio: “Every day we add impact to somebody’s life. They come in and sometimes they’re hopeless. They don’t know if they’re going to have food tomorrow or not, but they leave with hope. They leave with a smile.”
“I feel, here, like I found my home. My family. Every time I come here, I smile from my heart. Here I am really, really happy. I’m using my computer skills and improving the database. I learn something new every day.”
The love and appreciation is mutual. When they’re not calling her “the ninja,” Zinah is often celebrated as “martaba aula,” Arabic for “number one.”
Atlanta Managing Director, Stephen Assink, says she’s brought their level of service up a notch. He shares, “Zinah’s focus and excellent computer skills bring an important element to the Amplio team here in Atlanta. She has added tremendous value in helping develop back end processes and structures vital for the success of our business.”
Ten years after her life was turned upside down, Zinah is thriving. She shares her story whenever and wherever she can in hopes to inspire and motivate others not only to pursue their dreams, but also to recognize the incredible value of the refugee community:
“The refugee community is so impressive because they are so motivated. Refugees want to be successful; to add value to the community. They want their towns to be a better place. They want the United States to be a better place. They have this energy to work hard.”
What value could hiring refugees add to your workforce?
Companies who hire refugees report higher productivity and improved retention, among others benefits. Refugees are legal, motivated, and dependable workers who are ready and willing to give back to the companies who invest in them.
We take pride in providing top-notch employees to companies across the United States including Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Raleigh. Our industry specialties include light industrial work, hospitality and construction. For more information about whether the Refugee Workforce could be a good fit for your company, visit our website or contact us for a quote today.