When you meet her for the first time you would think that her life has been milk and honey. Her happy and bubbly disposition might deceive you into thinking that her childhood was that of a Disney princess. But sitting with her and listening to her stories, you will realize that she is nothing but a courageous woman who defied the odds of many immigrant stories.
And this is Jamila Rahime, a 61-year-old mother of two who fled Afghanistan at the age of 17 to live an American dream. Her unique journey and struggles from Afghanistan to Japan, Germany then finally to the United States could be a story of many other immigrants out there who have left their homes in pursuit of a better life in the United States.
Jamila Rahime, was born and raised in Afghanistan but had to flee with her family when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in the 70s. Her family went straight to Germany but Rahime left and decided to go straight to Japan to live with her older brother. To get to Japan she had to travel through India all on her own as a 17-year-old. One could only imagine what it felt like to be a young girl traveling in a foreign country all on her own without her family. Jamila’s driving force was the pursuit of a better life.
She lived in Japan from 1979 to 1983. In the span of living there for almost four years, Jamila was able to learn how to speak Japanese fluently. While she was living there she continued her education and attended an all-girls university where she accomplished getting a degree in economics. At this same university, she was also working and teaching English to other students.
After spending some time in Japan with her brother and finishing her education, she decided to move to Soltau, Germany and reunite with the rest of her family. There, she continued her education and decided to follow her passion of becoming a nurse. She finished her studies and worked at a hospital in the same town she lived in. It was around this time that she met her husband Mohammed. He had a similar story to hers. Him and his family were also from Afghanistan and they all fled due to the Soviet invasion. Mohammed was his family’s sole provider and he helped them make it to Germany, where they too were in pursuit of a better life. They were both from the same cultural background and as soon as they met it didn’t take long for wedding bells to ring.
Before their wedding, they built a house together, which they moved into on their wedding day. Soon after they wed, they decided to sell their newly built house and move to America to live the life they dreamed of. Like many immigrants, they struggled at first and built a foundation from scratch. They first came to California where some of their own family were already living. Soon after, Jamila and Mohammed had their first child together, a daughter. Two years later they decided to move to St. Louis, Missouri to live close to her brother who had encouraged them to move there because life was easier than California. After 6 years of struggling to have another child, in 1998 Jamila gave birth to her second child, a boy. All while doing this she continued her education and became a registered nurse and worked at a nursing home, while Mohammed was working in property management. She did this while raising children and trying to make ends meet with her husband. Eventually, after living in Missouri for 8 years they had enough money saved up to move back to California to pursue a better quality of life.
She now lives happily in Southern California with her family, working as a registered nurse in the COVID-19 unit at a hospital.
“My life is very good,” said Rahime. “I have a beautiful life, I’m healthy, I live in sunny California, I have two good children that I’m proud of and a daughter who is about to graduate with her bachelor’s. I learned in life to take nothing for granted. And to face consequences for my choices. I make my life better by learning from my experiences.”