The first family we will visit is from Iraq. The family consists of the father (33), mother (23), a son (7), a daughter (3) and the father’s brother (27). They arrived in Phoenix in mid-October. The father’s brother is attending English classes. The father of this family lost his own father when he was six years old. He was killed because he worked for an American company in Iraq. This young father was also kidnapped, held and tortured because he worked for a consulting company in Iraq. Six years ago the family fled to Syria where they remained until they came to the United States. The son attended school there and the dad worked. The boy loves school in Arizona. Both parents have family in Iraq. They are taking English classes here and look forward to improving their English so that they can find jobs. They are grateful to be in a safe environment and look forward to their new life in their new community.
The second family we will visit is also from Iraq. This family consists of a father (30), mother (34) and son (8). The son is attending school. They have been in Phoenix for a little over a month. The family is in the process of moving to a different apartment in their apartment complex. The parents are delighted by the move. The family left Iraq in 2010 and fled to Turkey due to religious persecution. He is Sunni; she is Shiite. Their son attended school in Turkey. However the parents could not find work in Turkey. The father had worked in a food factory in Iraq. Both parents understand some English. They do not have any family in Arizona. They are quite optimistic about their future in Arizona, and are willing to take any job they are offered. They feel their new life here will be improve even more once they have jobs.
The third family we will visit is from Iran. This family of three consists of a father (40), mother (41) and daughter (10). They have been in Arizona for seven weeks. The mother speaks English fluently. The father speaks and understands some English. He worked for a well-known international company for thirteen years while the mother worked for a shipping company. The past two years have been very difficult for this family. In 2010 the husband was arrested during a demonstration at the time of the presidential election, and he was imprisoned for fifty days. During his imprisonment he was beaten, which caused him to lose the hearing in one ear. Later, while attending a peace demonstration, he had an altercation with a law enforcement official and was arrested again. A lawyer who is a friend of his father reviewed his files and determined that it was not safe for the family to be in Iraq any longer. The lawyer told him that he had no chance for forgiveness. If he were to be imprisoned again, he probably would not survive because most prisoners die in prison in Iran. The father then fled to Turkey. After a year the mother and daughter joined him in Turkey where they stayed for three years. They feel a sense of peace and freedom in Arizona. The father and mother are enrolled in English classes and the father already has his driver’s license. All of their family is in Iraq. The mother knows that it is hard to start from the ground up but she says, “I know we will have a good life in peace here for our daughter and for us.”