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April 14, 2012

Burmese FlagThe first family we will visit is from Burma and consists of a mother (26) and her bright-eyed, active two-year old son. The family lives in a second floor, two-bedroom apartment. The apartment is sparsely furnished. After leaving Burma at age six with her family the mother lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for 20 years. She studied in school in the camp. Her son was born there and her husband is still in the camp in Thailand. She is not sure if or when he will join her in the United States. The mother’s parents, brother and sister came to the U.S. at the same time she did four months ago. She lived with her parents until she moved to her current apartment. She works as a housekeeper at a local hotel. She is happy to have a job and to be in the United States. A small toddler bike, some toys and educational material for the son would be helpful. English language tools for the mother and her son would be helpful.

Cuban FlagThe second family we will visit is from Cuba and consists of a husband (51) and wife (48). They started the process to come to the United States in 2005 after the wife had been imprisoned for speaking out against the government in 1988. In 2011 they had their first interview regarding their refugee status application. They were granted refugee status and arrived in Phoenix less than two months ago. “Freedom” is the word the wife uses to joyfully describe how she feels to be here. In Cuba, the wife was in the restaurant business and the husband was a welder. They eventually went into the farming business together. Between them they have three children—two from the wife’s previous marriage and one child they had together. They are hopeful that their adult children will be joining them in the United States soon, but they worry about their chances of being granting refugee status. They feel a mixture of happiness at being in a place where they are no longer afraid and uncertainty for their children’s safety and future. They are studying English and learning computer skills—neither of them has used a computer. Both are willing to do any kind of work. They could use some warm touches for the apartment and additional furniture. A vacuum would be very useful as the entire apartment is carpeted.

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