The Tennessee Justice Center is honoring Shahrazad Rashid for her unwavering dedication to providing extraordinary care to three of her children; Aymen, Haitham and Ibrahim.
Shahrazad and her husband Younus immigrated as refugees to the United States with four children, and three of the now-adult children are still in their care. Shahrazad’s children are the light of her life, and she is their full-time caregiver. Those who know Shahrazad can attest to the love she brings into any room she enters. Nozad, who is also a vital caregiver for his three older brothers, says that their mother Shahrazad embodies Kurdish motherhood with her welcoming and nurturing spirit.
TJC connected with Shahrazad and her family through a mutual friend and advocate Hanaa Muhammed, who is also a 2023 Mother of the Year. Since Aymen, Haitham and Ibrahim require around-the-clock caregiving, federal programs such as SNAP, TennCare, and SSI were vital to ensuring that Shahrazad and her children were supported, and their needs met. Navigating federal programs is difficult enough on its own, but especially difficult if you have limited English proficiency. However, these programs are essential to supporting the well-being of folks with disabilities and their caregivers, and accessibility should never be contingent on the language you speak. TJC helped reconnect Shahrazad and her family to SNAP after a lapse in benefits, but Shahrazad’s three sons additionally lost their SSI benefits in December 2022. The family lost this crucial line of support due to a rule stipulating that non-citizens can only receive SSI benefits for 7 years. The citizenship process for those with disabilities had added an additional high hurdle to a process already notorious for its complexity. The task of obtaining citizenship was made more daunting by the language barrier and the full-time responsibly of caring for her children. The family had attempted to apply for citizenship at one point, but never heard back. And the letters notifying the family of the termination of their SSI benefits were sent in English, so that they didn’t realize what was happening until it was upon them. Now they are working with an immigration attorney and TJC partner to navigate the complex immigration system. In the meantime, TJC assisted Shahrazad and Younus in accessing comprehensive coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
When Shahrazad and her sons had their Mother’s Day photos taken at their home, she invited us to come and take photos with her family-- welcoming us with open arms and sharing food with us. During the visit, she gracefully managed to host her guests while also tending to her three boys' varying needs. Her spirit should remind everyone of the strength of family and motherhood.