The first we will visit family is from Burma. There is a father, a mother, and four children (ages 10, 8, 3 and 1). The mother’s brother (15) lives with the family as well. This family was forced to flee Burma. They traveled on foot to Thailand. Two of their children were born in a refugee camp. Two of the children are U.S. citizens because they were born in the United States. Although this family has been in the U.S. for 5 years, they are still in transition. Shortly after they arrived, the mother’s father died. The mother’s brother has had a very difficult time adjusting to the death of his father. The family has lived in three different places since their arrival. They have very few possessions. The father has a job, and two of the children attend school and are learning English very quickly. The mother stays at home with the two younger children.
The next family we will visit this week is from Somalia. The family is comprised of a single mother and her two teen aged children (14 and 18). The mother originally fled Ethiopia twenty years ago, due to warfare between the Oromo tribal people and the Ethiopian government. She found her way to a refugee camp in Djibouti, near Somalia. Both of her children were born in the refugee camp. At the refugee camp, the children were able to attend school some of the time; but they also needed to work to help support the family. The family has been in the U.S. for one month. The daughter (14) just started school. The son (18) would like to start school, and he is also doing some job training.
The third family we will visit is also from Somalia. There is a single mother (29) and her son (age 7). This mother left Somalia with her family in 1992, and went to Kenya by boat. Her son was born at the refugee camp in Kenya. She and her son have been in the U.S. for two months. This young woman initially came to the U.S. shortly after her own mother arrived as a refugee in Phoenix. Since then, her mother has moved out of state for work. She also has an uncle in the U.S., but she does not know where he is living. Although she never attended school, this young woman’s English is very good. She says she learned English by watching cartoons! She is currently enrolled in classes to learn about life in The United States, and has a lead on a job. Her son is in school and is enjoying it very much. They are learning to read and write English together.