“Who wants this $20 bill?” Teeba Marlowe asked, waving it around. Every hand in Ohio Assembly Plant’s Econoline Conference went in the air.
Teeba crumbled the money and threw it on the table. “Who wants it now?” Every hand went back into the air.
“That’s my point,” she told the audience, “the value of something doesn’t change just because it looks different”.
This was the introduction to OHAP’s (first in series) Diversity and Inclusion Speakers, Teeba and Barbara Marlowe. Teeba knows better than most just how true her statement is. As a 19-month-old Iraqi girl, she was hit by an IED.
Barbara Marlowe and her husband. Tim, saw Teeba’s story in the newspaper, and went into action, bringing her to the United States. She told the audience that she felt a visceral connection to the young, injured girl the minute she saw Teeba’s eyes in the photo. The family rushed Teeba to Northeast Ohio.
It took Teeba years, and 19 surgeries, emotional growth, and battling bullies, but she says proudly, “I am proud of my face. I am proud of my skin for being able to endure all of those surgeries. I think for a girl with scars running up and down my face, I am pretty.”
But Teeba showed OHAP that she is far more than pretty. She is smart- boasting a 4.2 GPA as a junior at the prestigious Gilmore Academy, despite her public speaking tour. She is involved in multiple clubs and groups on campus, and mission trips.
She is also both generous and dedicated- Teeba and Barbara work with many charities both locally, and internationally. Locally, they support Circle of Friends at University Rainbow and Babies’ Hospital, to whom they feel forever indebted. Each of Teeba’s surgeries where performed there.
They also work with Iraqi Children Foundation, with a focus on The Hope Bus. Their team retro-fits busses to create mobile centers to deliver education, nutrition, health care, and social services to the children in Iraq. This is especially close to Teeba’s heart, as she still communicates regularly with her family overseas, and she know they still struggle; they don’t have the luxuries she has been afforded.
And yet, Teeba stays grounded, and when you talk to her, you can tell she’s still just a young girl, navigating the trials of being a teenager. She’s decided to cut back on her speaking engagements, because she doesn’t like to miss classes. But she was glad to come speak at OHAP, as well as join the Diversity and Inclusion team for a recognition luncheon, where she regaled the team with stories of her high school activities, and favorite Iraqi dish- Kubat. But she definitely enjoyed her pizza!
Teeba’s message resonates with Ohio Assembly Plant. Each of us is different and unique- as we strive towards the continuous improvement of our culture, we need to remember not to judge a book by its cover.
The only book you should judge by its cover is, Brave Face, by Teeba and Barbra Marlowe. Its is as emotional, intense, and uplifting as one would assume. The Marlowe’s generously brought copies for OHAP employees. All Ford Motor Company employees- all people even- will benefit from reading out the courageous story of their family.