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Malath Al Arnosi – I Belong

Malath Al Arnosi came to the United States as a refugee from her native Babylon, Iraq, in January 2014 due to the ongoing political environment. In Iraq, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and worked in a variety of jobs, including as a journalist in newspapers and radio, capacity building with NGOs and local governance trainings. She initially arrived in the US in Chicago during the middle of the Winter, but relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, 15 days later because of the well-developed Arab community, as well as the warmer weather. For the first two years, she had a difficult time adjusting to life in the US. She spoke minimal English and didn’t feel like herself. By the third year, Malath decided she was going to be herself again, do what she felt was best for her and make some new friends.

Malath is a founding member of One Heart Jax, an organization that supports refugee women who are textile and visual artists by fostering economic independence and social integration within the greater Jacksonville, Florida, area. Although she has no formal artistic training, she enjoys painting and drawing, learning new art styles and working with handicrafts, decorative items, and fashion. Her art moves in different genres, and she finds that art is a form of healing that creates an environment for reflection, creativity, and trying new things. Through her art as well as her personal story as a resettled refugee, Malath wants to generate positive awareness of Jacksonville’s refugee community. As she says, “All humans are created equal. I love all people, and I look for their actions and their feelings. I look at what’s in their heart. I belong to humanity.”

Currently, Malath is working on obtaining a DCF child care certificate at the Florida State College of Jacksonville. She is a substitute teacher at the Al Furqan VPK and dreams of having her own childcare facility someday. Malath has two brothers and three sisters who still live in Iraq, as well as her mother, who she calls daily. Malath is married with three children. She and her family love the beach and try to go every Sunday together.

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