Colorado celebrates World Refugee Day

Nelson Garcia was at the ceremony at the Colorado State Capitol.

DENVER - Some people believe that refugees have no place in this country especially from where Maytham Alshadood is from -- Iraq. But on Tuesday, others came out to celebrate them.

"I came to Denver with a backpack on my back, nothing," Alshadood said.

He worked from 2005 to 2008 as a translator for the United States military in Iraq, at great risk to him and his family, Alshadood says.

"Every interpreter, every person that worked for the United States government had a standing hit on them basically," Alshadood said.

This is a time in his life he never really wanted to talk about. But, he stood on the west steps of the State Capitol on Tuesday to tell everybody his story for World Refugee Day, a designation created by the Untied Nations in 2000.

"This is not easy for me to do," Alshadood said.

As a translator, he was often in combat situations side-by-side with American soldiers.

"I experienced (improvised explosive devices) and artillery and mortar shelling," Alshadood told the crowd.

After his work was finished, he says staying in Iraq was not an option. 

"I could not see another way out," Alshadood said.

He came to Colorado nine years ago with very little, but he managed to tackle all his hurdles and make something of himself.

"I am a transplant (Registered Nurse) working at the University of Colorado Hospital," Alshadood said to a cheering crowd.

Organizers want the public to know that whether people believe they should be or not, they are present already in Colorado trying to make a life for themselves.

"Looking out, I see friends, business owners, family members and staunch advocates for basic human rights," Governor John Hickenlooper said to the crowd. "They are seeking the opportunity to live. They are leaving a place where they are no longer safe in any sense."

Alshadood knows he'll have his critics. But, he believes refugees are an important part of Colorado society.

"These people are resilient, resourceful, and very hard working," Alshadood said.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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