Ibrahim, known to his friends as Sham, is an Iraqi who worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army. His support of the U.S. mission placed him in grave danger of retaliation by extremists, and, fearing for his life, he applied for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) in 2011. After two years, Sham was still waiting for a decision. IRAP supported Sham throughout this period to navigate the SIV process: guiding him through interviews and re-interviews, helping him confirm his case status, and advising him on how best to protect himself as his fear mounted and he considered fleeing to a neighboring country.
Sham finally received his visa in the spring of 2014. In coming to America, Sham escaped persecution at the hands of those who wanted him dead because of his work with the U.S. Army. Since arriving, he has been able to expand and strengthen the bonds he formed in Iraq with his American comrades. Sham first worked at Dog Tag Bakery, a nonprofit bakery in Washington, D.C. established to help empower veterans and military families. In 2015, Dog Tag, Inc. awarded him a fellowship to pursue a Business Administration certification at Georgetown University. Sham used the fellowship to hone entrepreneurship, networking, branding, and business decision-making skills, all while gaining direct experience in a small business setting. Today, Sham is an Assistant Store Manager at Starbucks. One of Sham’s current goals is to use the IRAP client network to make the Dog Tag Fellowship accessible to other SIV recipients from Iraq and Afghanistan.