March 28, 2015

Flag of Rwanda.svg    The first family we will visit consists of a sister and brother from Rwanda. The sister is thirty years old and the brother is twenty-four years old. Their parents are deceased; one was killed in an accident while the other died from illness. Rwanda has had a long history of occupation ethnic tensions which led to the outbreak   civil war in 1994. The sister and brother ended up in a refugee camp in Rwanda. Life in the refugee camp was very difficult and there was very little for them to accomplish. They arrived in Phoenix January 20th 2015. The sister has completed her education to the tenth grade level while her brother has completed his education to the ninth grade level. They both want to work in any job they can get. They also want to continue with their educational goals. They sister likes soccer and her favorite position is goalie. The brother enjoys playing soccer and his favorite positions are mid field and goalie. They have no relatives  in Phoenix, but they have a sister-in-law who lives in New York.

Flag of Myanmar.svg    The next visit will be to a family of six from Burma. The father and mother are twenty-eight years old. They have two daughters (ages 7 and 1) and two sons (ages 5 and 3). Burma is a country that has been plagued by 50 years of civil war, although the situation has improved in recent years. The family left Burma seven years ago when they were taken to Thailand by the army. They then left Thailand and moved to Malaysia to the city of Lupron. The oldest daughter was born in Burma and the other three children were born in Malaysia. While they were living in Malaysia they received refugee status through humanitarian efforts which enabled them to come to the United States. The wife has a brother and sister who are still in Thailand where they work as migrant workers but they do not have any family in the United States. The family arrived in Phoenix on January 27th 2015. The children will attend school as soon as they meet all of the district’s medical requirements. The whole family is learning to speak English by taking classes. When they lived in Malaysia the father worked selling vegetables, but he is willing to work in any available position in Phoenix.

Flag of Somalia.svg    The final visit this Saturday will be to a family of four from Somalia. The father is twenty-six years old and the mother is twenty-four years old. They have a son (age 4) and a daughter (age 1). Somalia is a country which has been in a civil war for the past twenty years. This young couple was forced to flee their country to the safety of a refugee camp in Ethiopia. The children were both born in the refugee camp. The husband and wife worked in the refugee camp with the Save the Children nutrition program. They arrived in Phoenix January 27th 2015. The husband is willing to work at any job once he receives his social security paper work. They are both taking classes to learn English. They do not have any family in the United States, but they are happy to live in their new community where their children will receive a good education.


Volunteer Spotlight: Trevor Kuntz

Meet Trevor Kuntz: Delivery Driver Extraordinaire and Social Media AnalystTrevor driving

How long have you been volunteering with WTAP?
I have been helping at WTAP since September 2012. I first found out about WTAP from helping at IRC, but only got involved after seeing a post on Facebook requesting volunteers for deliveries the next day.

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?

I have met some great people, both on the client side and on the volunteer side. On the client side, I have met some pretty incredible people. I try not to delve into their past too much, preferring to let them share with me if they wish, but over the years, I have met an Iraqi Air Force colonel, an Afghan film producer, a Cuban semi-pro baseball player, an Iranian reedist, and a Burmese organist. There are countless others whose stories I will never know, but that has always been OK with me. I only want to know as much as they want to share.

On the volunteer side, my favorite part, as a volunteer lead, is seeing other volunteers come out for the first time, having no clue what they will be doing, having a great time, and then seeing them again on a future delivery. I have really enjoyed getting to know other volunteer leads and committee members and have made friendships that could last for years. 

Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?
I feel like it is an opportunity for me to help other people in one small way. On occasion, it may be life changing for someone, but even when it is not, if it makes their life slightly more enjoyable, I am happy. I feel fortunate to have been born in the United States, knowing I could just have easily been born in a failed state in very different circumstances. In both cases, I would have done nothing to deserve my starting point in life – neither the opportunities nor the disadvantages. I hope to use my position of opportunity and privilege to help others and WTAP is a way that I can do that. 

TrevorDescribe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference.  
These kinds of instances happen very often, but one instance that I remember particularly well was when a client asked me to fix the TV of a elderly neighbor who was from the same country. The man had painful back issues and could only get out of his chair once every few hours. His son worked to support them and was often gone during the day, so the father would just sit in the chair and read that day’s newspaper over and over again. There was a TV in front of him, but it did not work, so he sat in regular boredom. After about twenty minutes of trial and error, we finally got it working and the elderly man was just delighted. Never before had I seen such excitement in such tired eyes.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
I am self-employed and sell mosquito netting, so that takes up much of my time. My primary hobbies are piano, buying art, microelectronic projects, thrifting, and reading Wikipedia for hours. I also really enjoy traveling, particularly the planning and logistics challenges involved. 

What secret powers or talents do you have?
I can play piano and I can sometimes hold a conversation in French. That is about it!


March 21, 2015

Flag of Myanmar.svg   Our first visit will be to a couple from Burma. They fled Burma in 2007 and went to Malaysia. Malaysia was home for them for seven years as they worked hard, waiting for America to welcome them. They arrived in Phoenix in November of 2014! They know a few people in Phoenix and were able to rent an apartment close to their friends. The couple found employment at the same hotel where he works in the laundry room and she does housekeeping. They are able to use the city bus to get to work, and are adjusting well to their new home.

Flag of Cuba.svg  Another visit will be to a young man from Cuba. He came to the United States the end of 2014. In Cuba he completed high school where his studies were focused on engineering. He appreciates the strong economy in the United States and has already found a job!

Flag of Cuba.svg  The third visit will be to a Cuban couple. The husband is an eye doctor who was providing medical care through the Cuban Health Service in Venezuela and in Colombia.  From Columbia, he and his wife immigrated to the United States. He has been in Arizona since December, and his wife followed a little later. They like it in their new home. The husband is hoping to practice medicine again. He is planning to work hard to improve his English first, and then to pursue his medical studies.


March 14, 2015

  The first family we will visit consists of a mother and son from Somalia. The mother is twenty-nine years old and her son is four years old. Somalia has suffered from two decades of war and instability. The country has been devastated and the population continues to suffer. Children in Somalia wake up everyday feeling weak, hungry, thirsty, and often not sure when they will have their next meal. This mother was self-employed in Somalia. She fled to a refugee camp in Ethiopia in 2007. There was no work in the refugee camp but the son enjoyed the refugee camp because he had a bike. The family arrived in Phoenix on December 17, 2014. The mother would like to work. The boy will start school in August when he will be five years old. The mother likes Phoenix. She feels comfortable because the weather here is similar to that of her country.

  Our next visit will be to a family of six from Somalia. The husband is sixty-four years old; the wife is fifty-five years old. They have three sons (ages 23, 19 and 18) and one daughter (age 13). Somalia is a country plagued by two decades of civil war and tribal clan fighting. The parents fled Somalia 1991 due to the war. All of the children were born while they were living in a refugee camp. The family found peace in the refugee camp, and they were given three meals a day. They came to Phoenix  on October 9, 2014. In the past the family owned a shop where they sold groceries. The father also worked as a tailor. The husband suffers from a chronic illness, but he is feeling well now. The daughter is in high school already and the oldest son is working. They have one older daughter who is in the process of relocating to Phoenix. She should be here within the next twelve months.

  We will visit a third family from Somalia this Saturday. This is a relatively large family of six. The husband is seventy years old and is blind. The wife is fifty-five years old. They have four sons (ages 24, 19, 17 and 12). They have lost family members due to the civil war in their country. The parents fled Somalia to a refugee camp in Ethiopia in 1991. All of the sons were born in the refugee camp where they suffered a lot of hardship. The family arrived in Phoenix October 21, 2014. They had to leave some of their relatives in Somalia and in the refugee camp in Ethiopia. The family has many memories of war and sadness from their home country, and from the refugee camp. They are adjusting to their new opportunities in the United States. Two of the sons attend public school and one son is working. The wife is the primary caregiver to the husband. They are happy to be in America. One of their favorite things about Phoenix is the easy access to clean drinking water! This family also finds the weather in Phoenix to be similar to that of their home country, which makes acclimation a bit easier for them.