Iraqi refugee fleeing ISIS control is 'working toward American d - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Iraqi refugee fleeing ISIS control is 'working toward American dream' in Wood County

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Khalid Haider and his sponsor, Gene Yoho Khalid Haider and his sponsor, Gene Yoho
Everyday, more and more people are being killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.  But some have survived to fight back.  The Yazidis are one group that ISIS is targeting.  Their religion is ancient, dating back more than 6,000 years.

Khalid Haider said,   "I believe that everybody should live in peace."  


In rural Wood County, a family is sponsoring a Yazidi Iraqi.  He is on a mission, from his new-found family's farm, to make major changes in his home country of Iraq.

Growing up, Kahlid was taught to live in peace with his Christian and Muslim friends.  He is from an area of Iraq called Mount Sinjar.  He said, "Up until recently, when they started to persecute and hunt us down, because we don't believe the same way we are believing."

He is referring to ISIS.  Khalid said the rules of ISIS are simple.  "Convert or die," he said.  

In 2005, Khalid took a job as an English translator for the United States, a very dangerous job, he said.  He worked with Gene Yoho, a former trooper with the West Virginia State Police.  Yoho was stationed in Iraq as part of the police force for the U.S.  

Yoho left the country after 10 months. Soon, ISIS wanted Khalid, so he asked Yoho to sponsor him in the Mountain State.  Khalid said the area is "one of the most beautiful places that I like, to be honest with you." 

Now, he's working on getting his solar energy technology degree, to bring solar panels to Iraq.  "I want to live the American life," he said.  "The true life.  I want to work hard for what I'm going to get.  I don't want to get anything or everything easy.  If you don't work hard for it, you don't know any value for it."

Khalid and his West Virginia family are spending much of their time in Washington D.C.  They said they're trying to get help for the thousands of other men, women, and children being killed, raped, and sold into slavery every day.  He said, "Everyone, whether they are Christian or Yazidi, they are all my family.  We are minorities.  We are on the same boat.  We are facing the same thing."

And until the day comes when his people are safe from being persecuted, Khalid said, he won't stop fighting.  

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