Oscar Rosado

Imagine being burned as a young child, and being in and out of the hospital trying to heal. That is the reality of Teeba Furat Marlowe, with her story told in the book “A Brave Face” co-written by Teeba and her adoptive American mother, Barbara Marlowe. 

When Teeba was a child she was severely burned in a roadside bombing in Iraq. The book is told in three perspectives, Teeba’s, her Iraqi mother Dunia’s, and her American mother Barbara’s. It goes on to talk about the struggles of getting Teeba to America to receive the medical attention she needed. It also talks about the emotional struggles both her Iraqi mother and American mother had over the years.

Barbara had witnessed an article seeing a four year old girl in Iraq that had mesmerized her. Teeba was caught in a bomb that had permanently scarred her, and left her without growing anymore hair. Barbara was affiliated with Wigs for Kids, a non-profit organization that provides wigs from real hair. She set up many calls and through networking had managed to get an Teeba, an Iraqi girl to the United States.

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which is an international honor society for two year institutions, organized the event for a college project. Their theme for the year is “stories that connect us.” “A Brave Face” can be incorporated into many themes around campus, including diversity, education, and health.  

“The book is a quick read, I finished it in about a day. I think about her story everyday,” Professor and Program Director Lisa Augustine stated. The campus is handing out free copies in the library, but there is a limited amount. “As a campus we’re hoping faculty, employees, students and community members read it,” said Augustine. 

  On Oct. 10  there was an event that invited Teeba, Barbara, as well as her husband and Teeba’s adoptive father Tim Marlowe on campus which was held at the Norton Culinary Arts Center. Augustine said after reading the book the next step was, “meeting the authors, being able to have a casual conversation with them, and learn about their powerful inspirational journey.”

The event began to go into fruition when Professor of Engineering, Business & Information Technologies, Travel and Tourism Industry, Marketing Maria McConnell saw Teeba’s story on a local news channel earlier in the year. She was looking for a keynote speaker for the induction ceremony for PTK. Although the induction did not work out, it did work out for the event.

“I thought Teeba’s message was so powerful, and would be a great thing to bring to campus,” said McConnell. McConnell stated she had made the connection with Barbara on Facebook, exchanged numbers, met a few times and had proceeded to solidify the event to get it all going.

A hope for humanity

“To think that two corners of the world that normally wouldn’t come together, that through newspaper and journalism were brought together,” said McConnell. “Their story is just so incredible. It gives you so much hope for humanity, just that culture of caring.”

Under 100 people attended the event which was Teeba with her adoptive American parents, sharing their story which is written in more detail in their book.

The event not only gave the opportunity to meet Teeba and her parents, and have their copies of the book signed, but it also gave the opportunity for attendees to ask questions to Teeba and her parents.

Like a second birthday

One of these questions asked was, did the family consider the date of July 16 to be a second birthday. On July 16, 2006 Barbara saw the article for the first time, and exactly one year later on the very same day, Teeba had entered Barbara and Tim’s lives. 

“It was like a second birthday for me, it totally changed my life, it made me a mother, something that I always wanted. It was an entirely new life. There are so many memories I wouldn’t have been able to experience or understand,” said Barbara.

Having value inspite

Later in the event, Teeba had made a visual demonstration for the audience, which was something she also did in the book. She took a 20 dollar bill and had asked the audience who would like it. Approximately everyone raised their hands in the air. Teeba had then crumbled the 20 dollar bill and asked the question again with the same number of hands up in the air. 

“Regardless of what this 20 dollar bill has gone through, it still has that value, it has not lost it,” said Teeba. She went on to say that regardless of what people go through they still have value.

The Marlowe family currently reside on the east side of Cleveland and were excited when they were asked to come and speak. Teeba is currently 17 years old and is a junior at Gilmore Academy. Teeba works part time at a café and volunteers at University Hospital with pediatric burn victims. She one day hopes to become a doctor and work with children to show them that she understands what they are going through. 

When Augustine asked Barbara what Teeba’s life would be like if she stayed in Iraq she responded, “Her grandmother had a first cousin selected for her to marry, because she was ‘too ugly’ to find a suitable husband.” 

 Some upcoming events that include the book are a celebration week in the spring with food, projects, and prizes. The projects will be judged by PTK alumni. They will also have a table at welcome week in the spring.

Thanks from the PTK 

 PTK would like to give a big thank you to Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs Jonathan Dryden Ph.D., in the Provost Office, who purchased 2000 books, 800 of which were given out and “sees the need for student driven projects,” Augustine stated. The PTK would also like to thank the LCCC Foundation who provided the food for the event, Vice President of Strategically Institutional Development Tracy Green who supported the group, and finally LCCC President Marcia Ballinger Ph.D., who supports the group and the projects that they do.

Madelyn Hill contributed to the story