Dear Karam,

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I want you to know that your parents have tried everything they could so you do not end up being born in Iran. Nothing racists towards the country, but they felt being a Palestinian with a Syrian issued Travel Document born in Tehran will be a limiting factor to your movement.

We live in tough times with a lot of nations playing a game that most of us don’t understand, but leave us from that; I don’t really understand politics to care much about it. See your maternal grandfather, may God have mercy on his soul, had faith in the nation. When a certain lion was forming the Ministry of Electricity in the country your grandfather lived in after being dispersed from Palestine, your grandfather’s position at that time was to facilitate the planning done by a German company to the laying of the country’s electric power grid. They were so impressed with your grandfather’s capabilities that they offered him a position in their plant in Germany. A government employee to the Ministry of Electricity didn’t make much in those days, but he refused to leave, because he had faith.

A few generations later your mother was employed by a European multinational where she met your father. When their travel document limited their promotion due to restrictions on countries to travel to, the only option they had to be promoted was to accept a vacancy in the only country that would allow them in hurdles free; and moved they did, because they had faith.

But that lion is now a monkey, and your parents feared on their safety to travel back for your birth, and they tried hard to get a visa to deliver at either your uncle’s new country of citizenship in sunny California, or your aunt’s new country of citizenship in cold Toronto, or your other uncle’s country of residence, but again the travel document that they held proved to be a challenge to their movement. They had their bags packed for weeks. Your sisters cried long and hard after the hopes of spending the summer with their cousins in either their uncles’ or aunt’s house was shattered. It was heart breaking.

After over 6 months of rigorous planning, visa applications, and but a few weeks left for your delivery it was inevitable that four measly letters printed on your travel document next to “Country of Birth” would make your situation more unfortunate. Sadly, these four letters will follow you even if you tried and managed to change your travel document into a privilege of a passport one day.

I advice you not to lose hope, and to truly believe that the whole travel document or any paper for that matter will not define who you are. You are defined by the knowledge you have, the kindness you extend to others, and the strength that you have to be the best you can be. The sensible will not care what you hold, and the ignorant is ignorant, so don’t mind them.

In any case, may 20 years from now you live in a world more tolerant than the one we live in today, and the faith that your grandfather and parents had will not have gone to waste.

Welcome to the world.

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