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A Self Made Man

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In 1990s, the Iraqi people had hard times. There was a war for the independence of Kuwait between them and the United States. It was an extremely challenging time for peaceful residents, like Hakim Haroun, who lost his mother in one of the first days of the military actions. However, this did not stop Hakim from gaining success in his life. Moreover, his memories about his mother and her faith in him helped the young man on his path to the happy life.

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In the present days, sitting in the living room of his own apartment in Morocco and telling us his life story, Hakim remembers his past and his hard way of becoming who he is now. What he remembers the best is his last conversation with his mother. Back then, he could not even imagine that this talk was the last one. They have already been aware that war in their country is possible, and she encouraged him to leave the country and find a better place to live somewhere else. She said, “Son, you are an intelligent boy, you can do whatever you want in your life. Do not ever let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. I believe in you, so you have to believe in yourself as well.” These words were a great motivation for Hakim. “No one believed in me here, when I just came. A young man with no special education – what was I going to find here? But I kept Mother’s words in my mind and repeated them every day like a prayer – I can do anything in my life.”

Telling us his story, Hakim says that he feels as if he is living it out once again. This story is full of emotions, challenges and tears. There were moments when he thought he would not cope with it and wanted to come back to Iraq. However, he remembered his mother’s words and assured himself that he was taking a right path. Moreover, he did not even have a family to come back to, and at his new place of living, he met the one who became his new family and started supporting him as his mother did.

Hakim’s father died shortly after the boy was born. He was remembered as a good and honorable man. Hakim’s mother was bringing him up, trying to give him everything he needed. However, they were quite poor and the woman could not send her son to study at a good school. Therefore, he was mostly taught at home by her and other people who volunteered to help them. Even though none of them was a professional teacher, they were experienced people, who knew a lot and who were able to educate the boy to become a good and honest person. Hakim, in his turn, grasped the information about everything very quickly and grew up as an extremely intelligent boy with good values. One of his educators, his mother’s best friend, remembers him now. “He was such a smart boy! So eager to learn new things and so kind and polite!” she says.

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When the war stroke, Hakim’s life changed completely. After he found his mother dead, he realized that it was time to leave Iraq, because his mother used to be the only person who held him there. He moved to Morocco, because he always liked this country very much and heard a lot of good things about it. His aim was to create a business and a family, becoming a successful man. However, when he arrived, he saw that there was no one to help him there at all. He had to do everything by himself. At first, Hakim worked as a janitor at a public library. In the evenings and when he had a free minute, he studied the history and geography of Morocco. These subjects have always been of a great interest to him. The librarian who worked there as well did not pay a lot of attention to the young man, but still she has a good impression of him. She says, “I remember this boy sitting at the table and reading books, and then, when he did cleaning, I saw his eyes sometimes. I saw that he was reflecting on something profoundly.”

The lady was right. Hakim was thinking about the way people live in this beautiful country, while most of them do not even know it well enough. His idea was to create a traveling business, aimed at residents of Morocco more than on tourists. When he said about this idea to his roommates and colleagues, they laughed at him. None of them believed that he would make it. It was extremely frustrating for Hakim that no one believed in him, but he remembered his mother’s words. Later, he met a young woman, who became of a great support to him. This woman is his wife now, and her name is Leyla. “We met at the library, where I came to find a book I wanted to read. He struck me from our first conversation. He started to tell me about the things, I, a native Morocco resident, have never heard of before. I always knew he was a smart guy, and I knew he would realize his dreams,” she recalls.

Hakim has been working as a janitor for several years, collecting money for opening a travel agency. He cherished this dream, and Leyla was there to help him when he felt bad about it. Soon the young people got married. Their wedding was a modest one, because they wanted to save more money for the business. And one day, after all the obstacles and challenges, their dream came true. Hakim opened his agency. It was an unusual one, because it encouraged native residents to come by and learn interesting things about their country. Their first clients mostly came there just because they had nothing more to do. However, after the interesting and captivating excursions held by Hakim himself, they became extremely excited. They advised their relatives and friends to come by and see it as well. Soon, the agency became successful, and Hakim realized his dream.

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Currently, Hakim and Leyla have two children. Hakim still remembers his mother and thanks her every day for giving him life twice – first at birth, and then at encouraging him to move from Iraq and show himself to the world. He did it and proved that his name, which is translated as “a wise man”, is a correct one. E.B. White, an American writer, once said that “Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” It is true for Hakim. It was not luck that helped him on the way, but hard work and a strong faith in self.

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