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November 5, 2011

Democratic Republic of Congo flagThe first family we will visit this weekend is a family of twelve from the Congo. Along with two parents, there are six daughters (ages 14, 13, 10, 6, 8, 2) and four sons (ages 20, 18, 4 and 8 months). In 1998 they fled from the Congo to Tanzania with their children who were then 7, 5, and 2. They arrived in Phoenix in January 2010.

Flag of TogoThe second family we will visit is from Togo. The husband is from a small village that is rich with minerals. The government mined the minerals, but would not improve the village. In 1991, the husband created an association to develop their village and asked the government that they be officially recognized. It wasn’t long before the military encircled the village. They arrested him and other organizers, but a minister spoke on his behalf and had him released. He was then under house arrest. His father told him it was no longer safe for him there and told him to leave. He fled to a refugee camp in Benin. In the camp were many different kinds of people. Some were fleeing political persecution. Others were criminals who were hiding from the police. There were even some spies. It was scary and disorganized. When the UN food supply dwindled, many of the criminals left. A new camp was built in 2000 that was organized and safe. The husband met his wife working in Benin. She is also from Togo, but was working in Benin. In 2005 the process was started for the family to relocate to the US. In September 2008 they arrived in Phoenix. They had a baby girl in October of 2010 and recently celebrated her 1st birthday.

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