I miss how things worked in Iraq before the fall of Saddam: the government helped families. My husband was a mechanic, sometimes for Saddam.

One day, we received a phone call, threatening our children and telling us to leave our house. In a further letter, they told us that Iraq is a country for Muslims only and not Christians. They placed a bomb across from our house.

In 2013, we decided it was time to leave.

My husband had a contact in Turkey; we paid him $10,000 to get false documents for every member of the family. Our plan was to depart with him from there to go to Germany. He bought the tickets. In Rome, he told us to wait while he went to get tickets to Germany. He never came back.

Despite this, we managed to get to Germany by paying a Tunisian man who took us there in a van together with a Syrian family. We requested asylum. The German government placed us in an apartment. It took months.

My daughters were going to school. We were slowly integrating. After a year, the police came to our house. They deported us back to Italy. It was absolutely traumatic.

In Italy, it was tough again; we moved from migrant center to migrant center. After many months, the church in Italy wrote a beautiful letter to Pope Francis explaining our situation. The Vatican helped us get a small apartment in Rome, where we are all living now.

I did not want my daughters to grow up seeing the violence my husband and I have seen in Iraq.

The Stories