Dream is not shattered

By 
  • April 20, 2010
Menirva Manhal KhoshabaMenirva is hanging onto her dreams. She’s 18. She’s lived as a refugee and a sweatshop seamstress since she was 14. Dreams are all she has.

“I don’t want to drop my dream. I always want to keep our hope alive, that someone will help us, will accept us. I cannot imagine that I will accept life here,” she said, and the tears begin. “I am tired. I cannot take it any more. I want to continue to dream.”

Menirva Manhal Khoshaba arrived in Beirut with her family in 2005. Like many teenagers she and her older brother Stephen quickly became breadwinners for the family. Her father risks arrest if he leaves the Christian neighbourhood, and employers aren’t looking for middle-aged men to fill the kinds of back-breaking jobs Iraqis get in the underground economy.

When Menirva’s brother turned 21 the United States considered his case separately from his father and accepted him for resettlement in San Diego. He left last month.

Menirva misses her brother, and the whole family struggles without the salary he earned hauling bolts of cloth around a factory.

While the family turns its hope to Canada, Menirva feels the pressure. At the factory, she does close embroidery work and the long days sometimes result in pounding headaches and double vision that keep her away from work. No work, no money.

Menirva worries about her father, Mikhail Manhal Khoshaba, and her mother, Madeline Boutros Oraha Matti.

“For our parents (Lebanon) was a very bad experience. They suffered because we worked. They looked at us losing our future, with our years passing by,” she said.

Mikhail regrets all that his children have endured.

“The five years were lost. For us, Beirut was five years wasted,” he said. “They did not go to  school. They did not learn anything else, like driving. From seven to seven they spent at work.”

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