Editorial: Manaf Hashim

The New York Times
December 20, 2010

A New, Safer Life

Manaf Hashim did not know who was threatening to kill him in the note left on the front door of his Baghdad home or in a message left on his cellphone two days later. He suspected he was being targeted because his fiancée, Farah, was Sunni, and he was Shia. He knew only that it was best to heed such warnings.

This was the fall of 2006, and Mr. Hashim, then 23 and a third-year physics student at Baghdad University, had to think fast. He fled to Jordan, then applied for a visa to the United States through a program for Iraqi refugees. In September 2009, he arrived in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “I felt happy,” he said. “I felt a safe feeling.”

Among the first people Mr. Hashim met were caseworkers from Catholic Charities, one of seven agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. They helped him enroll in English classes, apply for a driver’s license, and find a full-time job as a cashier. When he briefly fell behind on rent, a caseworker drew $450 from the fund to cover the shortfall.

When he is not working the graveyard shift or caring for a disabled brother who lives with him, Mr. Hashim is often writing to Farah, whom he hopes to bring here and marry.

“I want to give her a new life, too,” he said.

All donations made to The Times’s Neediest Cases Fund go to one of seven charities: the Children’s Aid Society; Brooklyn Community Services; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York; Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens; the Community Service Society of New York; the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; and UJA-Federation of New York.

Help Catholic Charities Support Manaf. Dedicate a donation to him here.