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Family Bios: April 30, 2016

600px-Flag_of_Afghanistan.svgThis family is from Afghanistan, and they arrived in Arizona on February 29 with their four children, three daughters, ages 2, 3, and 14, and a son age 10.  The father, age 35, worked for the American military for five years proving technical and computer support.  He had previously worked for seven years in the census bureau of the Afghan government.  He completed high school and went on for advanced training at institutes of higher learning in Afghanistan.  He hopes to attend college in America, but noted that he must first work to support his family, and he is hopeful that he may be employed soon.  Because the father worked for the military, the family’s lives were threatened and that is the reason they decided to leave Afghanistan.  They have no family in America, and the father has only one friend in America but he does live in the family’s same complex.  The couple has been married 16 years, and the husband is the only one in the family who speaks English.  The wife is a homemaker and likes living in America.  She wants to learn English and learn how to drive a car.  Her husband was taking his driving test tomorrow and noted that he had been studying daily so he could pass it.  The older daughter is in the 9th grade, and their son is in 4th grade.  They are both learning English in school and making good progress.

 

 

Flag_of_Ethiopia.svgThis family is from Ethiopia but fled to Kenya in 2005 to avoid the husband being harmed in a revenge killing after the husband’s father was involved in an auto accident in which another person was killed.  His father was arrested, and the family has not had any contact with him or the rest of their extended family since they left Ethiopia.  The family arrived in Arizona in January with their four children, two daughters, ages 5 and 11, and two sons, ages 2 and 13.  The husband, age 33, began working two weeks ago and was not at home during the visit.  The wife, age 30, reports that he enjoys his job. She described life in the camp as “very hard” as her husband was not able to work, and the family was dependent on United Nations High Commission for their livelihood.  The wife does not speak English but her husband does.  The two older children are currently enjoying school and learning English.  The family has no social support system here. When wife was asked how she felt about her new home, she said only that it is really different living here. When asked about her hopes for her family in America, she said that she wants to integrate the family into the American way of life.

 
Flag_of_the_Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo.svgThis week we visited a family of eight from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In 2007 they fled to neighboring country Uganda due to political unrest and violence in their community. They resided in a camp for nine years in Uganda, and were finally resettled in the United States in early March 2016. The husband and wife have six children, four of whom are now enrolled in school. Back in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the father was a farmer and he is grateful for the opportunity for his children to get a formal education and learn to read and write, an opportunity he did not have when he was growing up. He stated that the language barrier has been one of the biggest challenges since coming to the United States, and he really wants to learn English.

Volunteer Spotlight: Manya, Tatijana, and Maja

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How long have you been volunteering with WTAP? 

Our family, my two daughters and I, have been volunteering since September 2014.   We have helped with deliveries, organized the warehouse, worked at the clothing closet, and have adopted a family for the annual event.

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with WTAP?  
We have met many amazing volunteers who come out regularly to spend their Saturday mornings – individuals, couples, and parents and their children.  More importantly, we have had the privilege of meeting families from all over the world.  One Somali family really stands out in our minds.  There were about 9 people in the family, all in one apartment.  While they had very little in way of furniture or material belongings they had turned their home into a beautiful, welcoming place by covering the walls, ceiling, and even floors with colorful, patterned cloths.  You walked into their home and you immediately felt as if you had been transported half-way around the world. With so little, they had made a welcoming home.  Each time we volunteer we are  humbled by the families we meet who have their own personal challenges and dreams to share.

 

Why do you choose to donate your time to WTAP?

We initially found out about WTAP when looking for an organization to support for Manya’s alma mater’s annual national alumni volunteer day. Manya coordinated the Arizona alumni volunteer group in 2014 and 2015.  We absolutely loved our first experience and committed ourselves to becoming regular volunteers.  The joy we feel from helping families find clothing and set-up their new homes is unbeatable.  We selfishly keep returning to volunteer to keep re-experiencing that joy.

Describe an experience you had while volunteering that made you realize you were making a difference.  Not long after we first started volunteering, we had the privilege of helping a young family from Afghanistan.  The father/husband had been a interpreter supporting U.S. troops forcing them to leave their country to be safe from violent retaliation. They had 2 young children under the age of about 5 and the wife was pregnant with another child.  When we arrived at their home, we found out that they had really been hoping for a stroller for the younger child because the pregnant mom could not carry him. We knew there was no stroller on the truck for them.  We made the decision to run to a store down the street and to buy the family a stroller.  It was just a simple, basic stroller, but the impact it had on that family was significant.
 
What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Besides caring for our small backyard flock of pampered hens, we keep busy with school activities.  Manya is a school psychologist.  Tatijana and Maja are middle school students.
 
What secret powers or talents do you have?  
The girls are proud of their physical strength when unloading the truck.  Manya claims no super power other than a commitment to raising caring children who are involved in their community. 

Family Bios: April 23, 2016

SomaliaFlagThis is a young lady 22 year old from Somalia. This lady fled to Kenya in 2009  due to the threat she faced in Somalia. She arrived in Phoenix April 5, 2016. She worked in Kenya doing house work and attended school. She would like to take courses in English and is glad to be safe in the United States. She has no family in Phoenix.

 

 

800px-Flag_of_Cuba.svgThis visit was with two (2) young men from Cuba. One roommate is 23 years old and the other is 29 years old.  They fled Cuba to the United States to pursue a better life. Their journey took them from Cuba to Ecuador, from Ecuador to Panama, from Panama to Honduras, and from Honduras to Mexico.  They were released in Mexico to cross the border into the United States. They arrived in the United States and had to call a cousin in Spain for future directions. They arrived in Phoenix December 3, 2015. They both have degrees,  one in  Engineering, the other in Electrical Engineering. They both are working, one with a Glass Company building frames and installing glass. The other is working with an Electrical Company. They are concentrating on learning English. The one roommate would like to work in Marine Engineering.  They want to help their families in Cuba have a better life.

 

Flag_of_Myanmar.svgThis visit was with a 33 year old young man from Burma. He fled Burma due to discrimination and an inability to earn a living. He fled to Malaysia where he worked in a factory, a supermarket as a cashier, and as a waiter. He arrived in Phoenix February 18, 2016. He is taking Computer classes through Maricopa County Health and Human Services. He is learning English and wants to take the English speaking test. He stated he is a little uncomfortable where he is currently living because of the community in which he lives and is looking for support with clothing. He is very glad to be here in the United States.

Family Bios: April 16, 2016

600px-Flag_of_Afghanistan.svgThe mother in the first family is originally from Afghanistan.  She left with her parents when she was five years old.  They lived in Iran for thirty years.  She married and had all her children in Iran.  From Iran, they spent 7 months in Romania and arrived one month ago in Arizona.  They have family in Afghanistan and Iran, but none here.  The language barrier has made things difficult for the children in school and for the mother to communicate.  The oldest son is 19 and wants to study and work evenings.  The two younger sons are 16 and six. The daughter is nine, all three are attending school.  The mother (age 35) hopes to find part-time work that is not heavy labor, due to back issues.

 

600px-Flag_of_Afghanistan.svgThe second family is also from Afghanistan originally.  They lived in Iran for 33 years where the father (age 46) and mother (age 35) met, married and had all their children.  Toward the end, life in Iran was difficult because jobs were hard to find.  The father worked in a bakery and later in construction to make ends meet.  The oldest son is 15 and speaks some English.  They have two daughters, ages nine and seven who attend school.  They also have a two year old son that is very curious and active and keeps his parents on their toes.  They currently have no other family members here and need to learn English.

 

 

800px-Flag_of_Cuba.svgThe third visit will be to a step-dad and step-son who are Cuban asylees.  This means they are able to work here and apply for residency if they are in good status.  Once they get permanent residency, they can apply for a petition to have family join them.  They left Cuba in search of a better life and arrived in Arizona on November, 2015.  The step-dad left his wife and 3 year old son in Cuba.  Both men just found employment working maintenance in an apartment complex and are looking forward to having family join them in future.