A Love Story
Most Pluma clients know her as Samantha. Her official name is Ibtisam Nisan. She was born in Iraq forty-two years ago. At the age of nine, along with her mother and four siblings, they escaped from Iraq and the warfare of Saddam Hussein.
Along with hundreds of others, Samantha’s family walked for several days until they reached Turkey. While the people walked, many carrying their children and whatever belongings they could hold, American planes dropped food and water to keep them alive. She remembers little about this walk, except they were frightened, cold and wet from rain and they were exhausted, and their mother kept them moving forward.
In Turkey, they became refugees living in tents for the next four years until the United Nations led by the United States and its coalitions placed them in safe countries. During their time living in tents, there was no education for the children, minimal medical provision, and limited food supplies. She remembers her mother cooking on a twelve-inch, close to the ground small stove fueled by a propane tank.
Eventually Samantha’s family was sent to Canada. Their neighbors from Iraq had immigrated to the United States. Eventually, Samantha and one of the neighbor’s sons, Mike (Shleimun), reconnected and married and she moved to Phoenix where they live with their beautiful children, Jacob fifteen, Jonathan eleven and their daughter Elaina, who will be two February 23.
As a hairstylist and assistant at Pluma for over five years, Samantha is noticeably talented with hair, especially cutting and blow-drying longer styles, including highlights, and accent lights. She also manages the salon books, product inventory, oversees the vendors and she is thoughtful, efficient and has a great sense of humor. Samantha has an unforgettable memory and keeps the schedule moving along in the salon. Thank goodness for her young mind!
When I asked Samantha what she values most in her life, without much hesitation she answered, Family, Freedom, and Education.
Although her parents and siblings still live in Canada, they are closely connected. Her husband’s extensive family live close to them in Phoenix and they are a close-knit family, sharing their daily lives, Christian faith, and moral standards. Family matters profoundly to her.
As far as freedom, she explained that in Iraq women hand no rights. They could not drive or work. If they did, they were branded as bad women. “Here in this country women are equal to men in independence, and they can speak their mind and can practice the religion they choose. These freedoms most of us in this country take for granted.” Of course, freedom matters to her.
As for education, when you meet Samantha, she appears shy and quiet, but after spending time with her, you know she is intelligent, well informed, observant, has a strong opinion, and educated. Samantha appreciates the opportunities we have in this country for education. Her sons are thriving in school and she and her husband make sure of it. The opportunity of equal education for both men and women matter greatly to her.
Samantha is a woman of her word; she places her family first along with her faith in God. She does not take for granted the freedoms she has come to appreciate living in this country. She will always remember the support from America that kept them alive during their escape from Iraq and the four years living in tents. And she will continue to make sure she and her husband provide the best education they can for their children.
Samantha’s story is a love story. It reminds us to love our families, our precious freedoms, and abundant education and to treasure our country for all the good it has to offer and cherish the good lives we are living.
I feel fortunate to have Samantha with us at Pluma. She is responsible, loyal, and hard-working. Attributes that in today’s workforce are extremely valued.
Thank you Samantha, for sharing your story with us. And a very happy birthday to baby, Elaina. Now that is yet another story!