“I don’t even know how I’m still alive,” said “Sarah,” an Iraqi interpreter.
Meet “Sarah,” one of thousands of interpreters risking her life, and her family’s, to help translate for U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
“Many of my friends got killed and kidnapped,” she said. “They took their money, after that they tortured them.”
Her name has been changed, her face blurred to protect her family still in Iraq. She’s now in the U.S. after a fellow interpreter’s mother was killed.
“Sarah” feared for her life and was given one of only 500 special immigrant visas.
Army National Guard Major Mathew Tully said, “There’s literally tens of thousands of Sarahs in Iraq putting their lives on the line.”
“Can you help out? Do you have a spare room? We heard her story and couldn’t say no,” explained Tully’s wife, Kim.
The Tullys saw it as their duty to help.
Tully served in Iraq for a year.
He said, “Sarah has done more for America than what most Americans have done for America.”
“Everything the Army do, the soldiers do, I signed with a company. I go on missions with them. I do raids. Checkpoints,” she said.
Now, the family is not only helping her get a Social Security number, but also helping her adjust to life in New York.
“America’s completely different than Iraq,” she said.
When asked what are some things she has to ask about, she said, “Well, going to a restaurant. I know English, but I don’t know how to order.”
But most interpreters, and especially their families, have little chance of leaving Iraq. There are only 500 special visas. And the Tullys worry about what would happen if U.S. troops leave Iraq.
“What concerns me are the tens of thousands of Sarahs, Iraqis who supported American troops,” said Tully. “And what’s going to happen to them? If we pull out, odds are they’re going to be slaughtered.”
“Sarah” explained her devotion to her job. She said, “I don’t know if you are going to believe it, but I believe in what the U.S. Army is there for. I see them everyday, how they treat people there, how they treat kids. I am surprised because my own people don’t treat each other like that. They are so nice to the people.”
This is the perspective from one woman who may be lucky to be alive — a woman who now wants to finish her education studying, what else, politics.