The first family we will visit is a large family from Zaire that includes the father (40), the mother (31), eight daughters (17, 15, 13, 12, 10, 9, 7 and 3) and two sons (10 and 5). They left their homeland due to insecurity, personal violence, and military violence. These parents lived with the fear that their sons could be taken away them and forced into the military. Sadly, the mother was also assaulted and raped. She still suffers from the assault and takes medication to help her. After all of these difficulties the family fled to Tanzania. The family lived in a refugee camp in Tanzania where they endured hard times. They were attacked in the camps because of their ethnicity. Because of the attacks on the family, they were processed a bit quicker than is normal, and allowed to come to the United States. The family arrived in Arizona in May. The father says that life in the U.S. is much better. However, because of its size, the family must live in two different apartments. The parents find this separation in living spaces to be stressful. All of the father’s family members were killed in Zaire. The mother does not know her family’s whereabouts. She has not seen or heard from them in 13 years. The parents were farmers in Zaire. The father misses farming. Ten of the children are already attending school in Phoenix. Despite their terrible losses and hardship, these parents are optimistic about the future here for themselves and their children.
The next family we will visit is from Cuba. This family of three consists of a father (25), a mother (30) and son (11 mos.). They are expecting a baby girl who is due in November. The family arrived in Arizona in June. They left Cuba because of the economic situation, the prohibition of free speech and to make a better life for themselves. The young family made the journey from Cuba to Ecuador. The father worked as an electrician in Ecuador. He has a degree from the School of Art in Cuba and was a professional dancer. Ecuador has international relations with Cuba so the family was allowed to stay in Ecuador legally. They made their way north through Central America by traveling through forests. They were arrested in Mexico and were detained for close to three weeks. Their infant son was gravely ill at that time but was given no medical attention. It was also difficult for the mother to travel and live in these conditions as she was pregnant. She also became very ill. They finally reached Texas where they were welcomed to the United States. Both parents are joyful and grateful for the opportunity to live in the United States. They look forward to success and to contributing positively to their new community.
The third family we will visit is also from Cuba. They have been Arizona for less than a month. When they first came to the United States they arrived in Texas. The husband (27) and wife (23) left Cuba with the goal of coming to the United States which the husband says is “the land of opportunity.” The husband left Cuba at the age of 19. He lived in Ecuador with a friend of his mother’s. He left Ecuador in 2006 due to low employment and a failing economy. The husband and wife’s story is one of a long, long journey from Ecuador to Columbia, Panama and then to Costa Rica. They travelled through forests, on buses, and by plane. They travelled through mountains at night with a “coyote” (the term for a human trafficker) that left them behind in Nicaragua. At the border crossing town of Pachula they were detained for four days. They were then detained again in Vera Cruz for 11 days. The couple finally entered the United States through Texas. Their story of coming to live in Phoenix is a beautiful one. A friend gave them the name and contact information for a Cuban-American in Phoenix. This person, a complete stranger, wrote a letter and offered to sponsor the young couple, which enabled them to come to Phoenix. The husband is very grateful to their sponsor, whom they have not yet met. The couple looks forward to their meeting now that they are safely in Arizona. Both husband and wife still have family in Cuba who hope to join them in the United States. The wife was a third-year university student studying astronomy in Cuba. The husband was a chef and bartender. They both look forward to finding work in the Phoenix area and a thrilled to be in this country.