Saleema grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and married her husband at age thirteen. Together they had six children and now have several grandchildren that Saleema loves to show off in photos. Saleema’s husband worked as an attorney in Iraq, and Saleema also worked in courtrooms assisting judges with cases involving property laws. After fleeing violence in their home region of Dora, Baghdad, Saleema and her husband applied for resettlement in the United States through the UN in 2009. She learned that her application was accepted three years later, in 2012, and then prepared to move across the world seeking safety and peace. Unfortunately, Saleema’s children and grandchildren stayed behind in Iraq when she left.
When Saleema arrived in the United States, the separation from her family and home country was incredibly difficult. Her husband spoke English well when they arrived, but Saleema did not know any of the language or have family or friends nearby. She says, “When I first came to Chicago, I was depressed. After that I tried to adjust step by step. I found new friends, and the cultural orientation helped. And then I started knowing the community.”
Saleema invited one of the Arabic interpreters over for dinner one night, where he learned that she enjoys knitting. He told her about Loom and gave her the information to join. She loved the community Loom provided. She says it was a chance for her to “spend some good time with good people” and eased her transition to living in Chicago.
Saleema is vibrant, outgoing and hard working. She enjoys to knit, crochet and sew at Loom. She is also a fantastic cook.
As told to Loom volunteer Kait Madsen