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Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity celebrates new home project for Iraqi American interpreter

Aladdin Aldulaimi, his wife, Raghad Alhilal, and their two children, Yosif and Mariam, take turns plunging a shovel into the dirt in front of their future home.  (Brydon Black/Idaho Capital Sun)
By Brydon Black Idaho Capital Sun

Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity held a ceremony on Tuesday celebrating a home project for the Aldulaimi and Alhilal family.

Aladdin Aldulaimi assisted American forces in Iraq as a contracted interpreter, where he lost his leg after being the target of a 2007 al-Qaida car bomb.

This is the first time Boise Valley Habitat built a home in Star, Idaho. Habitat also partnered with the city of Star, Citi and Hubble Homes in building the family’s new home.

“It’s been a really beautiful process with the city to be able to welcome this family into the community,” Boise Valley Habitat Executive Director Janessa Chastain told the Idaho Capital Sun after the event.

The event featured remarks from Chastain, Star Mayor Trevor Chadwick, Citi Senior Vice President of Client Management Sue Oster and Aldulaimi.

“I want to say thank you to Habitat for Humanity, which is a beautiful and great people. They made our dream come true.” Aldulaimi said. “Just like wishes, I am Aladdin, but I don’t have a genie. They are like my genie. I want to tell them thank you.”

Aldulaimi, his wife Raghad Alhilal and their children Yosif and Mariam, took turns plunging a shovel into the ground in front of their future home to end the event.

Aldulaimi and his family spoke to The Capital Sun moments before the ceremony began, expressing their gratitude to call Star home.

Aldulaimi served as a sergeant in the Iraqi military before becoming a translator for the U.S. armed forces in Fallujah.

Fallujah was among the most dangerous cities in Iraq during the 2003-2011 U.S. occupation.

He said al-Qaida militants put a bounty on his head due to his work with the U.S., which led to a bomb being planted in his car in February 2007.

The explosion cost Aldulaimi his leg; he now sports a prosthetic with a design of bald eagles and American flags.

A nearby Marine contacted a helicopter to take Aldulaimi to the Green Zone in Baghdad, an area also known as the “international zone,” a designated safe area for U.S. forces and allies in the region.

Aldulaimi said he spent 16 days at the Green Zone in a U.S. hospital, where he had three amputations to avoid the spread of gangrene. He then went to Jordan, having his fourth amputation.

He spent three months in bed, dreaming of a hot shower and a nice meal. Working with American forces covered his insurance and medical costs, also helping Aldulaimi with his process of becoming a refugee in the United States, eventually gaining citizenship in 2009.

Aldulaimi said he and his family are excited to have their own home where their kids can play in the backyard.

He’s looking forward to listening to soft music and having tea with his wife in the morning.

“It’s a great deal to be able to provide home ownership for people, especially here in Star where housing prices have gotten really expensive,” Chadwick said. “This is fantastic. Aladdin with his support of U.S. armed forces, serving in combat right along the soldiers. I’m a veteran as well, so I appreciate everything he’s done for us as a community.”