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A immigrant to America from the 80s makes his way to the American dream, a penniless stranger who finds family and success

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1984 the year Ahab Haddad came to Chicago, Illinois, from Rama, Israel.

1984 the year Ahab Haddad came to Chicago, Illinois, from Rama, Israel.

Photo Courtesy of Ahab Haddad

1984 the year Ahab Haddad came to Chicago, Illinois, from Rama, Israel.

Photo Courtesy of Ahab Haddad

Photo Courtesy of Ahab Haddad

1984 the year Ahab Haddad came to Chicago, Illinois, from Rama, Israel.

Elias Haddad, Reporter

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The father of three healthy children—one in the U.S. Army, one in college and one graduating high school in a year—Ahab Haddad has many things to care for in his life. But the one thing that he cares about most without a doubt is family. No matter where he was in life, he knew he had family in his life that would get him through anything people threw at him.

Family is everything to him and without it nobody would have any humanity or love for anything, this applies for Ahab as he depends heavily on his family to always be there for him almost as much as he is for them.

Ahab Haddad was born in 1965 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Arabic and Hebrew are his only speaking languages. He knew little English at the time from a class that they had in school in Israel. 

“I had to live according to my means. I had to make every dollar last,” Ahab says.

The way that he persevered through these times with no way to contact his parents, and with virtually no money.

As poor as he was, he went to college and had a job to make money. Being a foreign student, they gave him a on-campus job as a janitor.

“When all the kids were partying on Friday nights, I was cleaning classrooms, mopping floors, taking out the trash.”

“No regrets, I have no regrets, because every job I did whether that’s cleaning a bathroom or bussing a table at a restaurant because those are the things that made me the man I am today.”

He considers himself a survivor after the hardships he faced from Americans in 1984 stereotyping him as a terrorist and not accepting him for being an Arab in America.

One year he was in his beat-down apartment on his college campus when he received a letter in a manila envelope with the lavender scent of his mother’s perfume accompanied by the rugged, sloppy but legible handwriting of his father.

Inside the envelope was a $100 bill from his poor family in the middle east. Along with a Christmas card that had all the support from everyone in the village. He knew he was broke and needed the money but he took the money put it in a Christmas card of his own and sent it back saying he knew how hard his parents worked for as little money as he had and he couldn’t accept it no matter how broke he was.

 

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