Amal Ilain – Palestine

Amal and her husband came to America from Palestine in 1972. They had visited this country in 1968, and four years later returned to stay.

Youngstown was their choice of a place to live since they had family members in the community.  Amal and her husband have 4 children, 1 daughter and 3 sons.  Two of her children live in Youngstown, one lives in Michigan, and one in Cleveland.

Amal grew up in the West Bank and went to school there. She learned the English language as a student in Palestine, starting in the 4th grade. All of her children speak both English and Arabic.  She is proud of her language and believes it is important to maintain your native language.

Amal has gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca and speaks of that experience with great faith and devotion.  In her own words, “When you go there, you don’t think about anything else, and you see people from all nationalities, from all over the world. This makes you forget about war. You think about how God make all the types of people and made them to gather together as one, and there is no hatred between them.”  She would like to on another pilgrimage, and says, “Insha’Allah” which in English means “God willing.”

What Amal misses about home in Palestine is that neighbors are treated as family. They do not have to call; they can come to your home anytime and join you to eat.  She misses the house where she grew up, the fruit trees that surrounded her home and the vegetable garden.  She describes waking up in the morning and going outside to pick fruit from the trees.  She misses the “long mountain” which she was able to see from her parent’s house.  In the front of the house, she could see the town, and remembers sitting and drawing the town. She misses the walks she would take with friends in the neighborhood. She adds, “See how many things I miss.”

It is important to Amal that her children keep their religion of Islam and that they are good Muslims and good people.  She wants them to keep their Arabic language and pass it on to their children as she did.

When Amal talks about her home, she says, “I want to go back because that is my home country, but I want to go back to peace. I want to go back to remember all the things I did when I was younger.” And then she adds, “but America is a good country.”

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