Wide Angle

Diaspo # 194 : Abdelghani ‘Sheer-luck Holmes’ Waamrou, a Moroccan police officer in Houston, USA

Through sheer luck, his name was chosen in the Green card lottery to immigrate to the United States of America. Abdelghani Waamrou, a Tata-native, worked in a restaurant in New York City, before moving to Houston and becoming a police officer to protect and serve his community.

Abdelghani Waamrou and his co-worker. / DR
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It was only by chance that Morocco-born Abdelghani Waamrou found his way to the United States of America, where he currently serves in the police force in Houston, Texas.

A native of Douar Tamgart near Tata, he was born in 1983, and after four years his family left for the city of Salé, where he studied. Upon graduating high school in literature, he went for English literature at the Mohammed V University in Rabat.

While studying, Abdelghani was also helping his uncle at his phone booth business. One day, during his third year of studies, «my uncle and I were at the phone booth business and he asked me to take part to the immigration lottery to the United States of America. I refused because I had already tried my luck three times before, but he kept insisting», he recalled. Abdelghani was familiar with American culture: indeed, as well as working with his uncle, he was also working with a US organization in Morocco, assisting and guiding American tourists in Rabat.

Yet, unbeknown to him, the episode with his uncle was just the beginning: «in 2007, as I was heading home from the university, my mother told me that I had received a letter and she thought it was for a job in Rabat. When I opened it, I said to her ‘I am not going to work in Rabat, I am going to work in the United States!’»

The American dream

And off he went: in February 2008, Abdelghani Waamrou left Morocco to live the American dream and begun his journey in the city of Oxford, Connecticut, where he resided in the home of a US citizen he had met in Morocco.

«The man was Jewish, and when I arrived to his home, he put a praying mat in the room for me, as well as the Holy Quran, because he knew that I was a Muslim, and I stayed with him for about a month».

Abdelghani Waamrou

The Moroccan man recalled that the climate of in Oxford was harsh: the city was covered with snow, and he could not get used to it, so he told his host of his desire to move elsewhere «and he told me that he knew a woman in New York City who could put me up at her home».

Step 2: Abdelghani was headed for the Big Apple and once there, «the lady welcomed me and handed me the keys to the basement of her house. In this big city I felt a sort of cultural shock, it took me some time to get used to a lot of things».

A Moroccan police officer in the USA

Not one to sit on his hands, he «found a job in a restaurant owned by Jordanian. One of the workers was a Moroccan man and he helped me integrate with the rest of the colleagues. I used to work 12 hours a day».

He recalled that upon receiving the fruit of his labor, he was very proud : «my very first wages were $ 350 for the first week. I felt overjoyed, and once I got home, I told my host. She got mad and told me that the owner of the restaurant was exploiting me».

An active man, Abdelghani was also studying remotely and opted for a Medical Interpreter course from Western Kentucky University. He graduated in 2013.

His diploma in hand, he kept working at the restaurant and developed his professional skills in the field of medical translation «from Arabic and Tamazight into English».

«One day, a doctor told me that a patient was in the hospital making strange movements, sitting and then standing up and talking to himself», Abdelghani recalled. «He was surprised, and told me he intended to demand that this patient be presented to a psychiatrist, but I told him that there was no need for it. Actually, the patient was a Muslim who was praying!»

Abdelghani Waamrou

In 2014, Abdelghani decided to leave New York and settle down in Houston, Texas, where he started working for a clothing company.

But the Moroccan man had other ambitions and thought about applying for a job with the city police. «Since they were looking for people who spoke foreign languages, they accepted my application. After the first interview and a written exam, it took three months between medical and psychiatric examinations before I was finally admitted».

He enrolled in the police academy in October 2015, and underwent six months of difficult training, and as well as he six more months of field training. Abdelghani Waamrou hence became officially, and through sheer luck, a member of Houston, Texas city police. From Salé to the USA, fighting crime and protecting his community.