Abington student reaches major milestone

ABINGTON, Pa. - November 28, 2012

He was caught up in the war and has made remarkable progress in this country. This week, he is set to reach a real milestone.

Mohammad al-Jumaili is a senior at Abington High School, but when he first came to Philadelphia, he was 12-years old, spoke no English and was on crutches.

Mohammad lost his right leg in a car-bombing in Fallujah; an attack that also killed his 6-year-old cousin.

A U.S. charity brought him to Shriners' Hospital in Philadelphia for a prosthetic right leg and surgery on his left leg.

When he returned to Iraq, insurgents and American forces were battling in Fallujah every day.

"Everybody is opening their doors for me, in America. In Iraq, in my country, my hometown, they closed the door on me," said Mohammed al-Jumaili.

And because of their time in America, Mohammed and his mother were potential targets.

During a return trip to Philadelphia for more treatment, the two sought political asylum. However, life here also had obstacles. There was prejudice against Muslims and Middle Easterners after the 9-11 attack.

"My whole family cried that day, because it doesn't just hurt America, it hurts all the world," said Mohammed.

Still, Mohammed jumped into American life, tackling English at Abington High and getting involved in robotics.

He is the number one singles player on the tennis team even though he only has one leg.

"I'm very good at tennis, and in tennis, you have to run," he said.

Mohammed also joined the wrestling team.

"I just wanted to see what I could do," he said. "The second year I wrestled, I was undefeated."

He has a host of awards for his accomplishments in academics, and has reached the top in the Boy Scouts.

"I think I have the most merit badges in my troop," he said.

Mohammed will officially become an Eagle Scout on Saturday. He will be the first person from Iraq or the Middle East to earn that honor.

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