MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Beulah Shakir is from Pakistan and was a teacher there for years. Her husband Naeem was an attorney for the country’s Supreme Court. They’re also Christians, which was increasingly difficult living in a Muslim country. "Unfortunately in Pakistan the religion is being used as a tool to persecute minorities,” says Shakir. “We left Pakistan because our lives were not safe."
Their daughter, Uzma Roy, got married in America in 2000, and after they met their grandchild, they knew it was time to move. “Why? Because, the first for me is that there is a freedom of religion because I had a bitter experience in my home country,” says Shakir.
So, in 2001, they applied for their green cards but didn’t get them until ten years later. “I got my green card, and then I had to wait for five years,” says Shakir. “You have to stay here for five years continuously, after that you can apply for naturalization.” Five years went by, and they were finally allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Just last week, Shakir found out she was an American citizen. “I'm so proud and thankful for this situation because the society over here that is very welcoming, my church people, my church family are welcoming,” says Shakir. However, something was still missing. Her husband, Naeem, died from cancer a year ago. “It takes too long […] my husband would have been sitting with me as a citizen of America,” says Shakir.
Now, her goal is to keep her husband’s memory alive by helping the community who makes her feel at home. “I have a future to contribute more to the society, to volunteer more to the society to different organizations,” says Shakir.