This week’s first family is from Bhutan. This family of four arrived in late June from Nepal, where they had been living in a refugee camp for 12 years. The Bhutanese government has created different classifications for people living in Bhutan. The scale ranges from F1, a true Bhutanese citizen, to F7, a non-Bhutanese citizen. When the father, an ethnic Bhutanese, passed away, the family was forced to leave because their mother was Nepali-speaking and classified as an F7. This classification meant the family was not allowed any benefits. The children could not even go to school. Eventually they had to flee to Nepal. In the camp in Nepal, the children attended school and learned English. They are happy to be here, but still have family in Nepal.
This week’s second visit is a very friendly and welcoming family of three from Burma. The parents and their father were forced to flee from Burma when the army stopped a bus they were traveling on, checked everyone’s identification, and forced the ethnic minorities on the bus to become porters for the army. The family was able to escape after a while when the soldiers in charge of them were attacked. The family fled through the jungle to the border with Thailand. Because the soldiers had kept their identification they were unable to travel or stay in Burma. It was too dangerous to cross into Thailand because the Thai government patrols the border to keep people from crossing. Instead, the family went to Malaysia. The family stayed there for five years and with the help of the UNHCR they were able to resettle in the United States. The father speaks English and already has a job working in a restaurant. Their daughter will be starting school in a few weeks. The family is happy to be in America.
Our final family is a couple from Burma. They are expecting a baby boy in October. They were forced to flee Burma and went to Malaysia where they stayed for three years. In Malaysia they were able to work in a restaurant until they came to America. They are happy to be in America, especially after the unfair government they faced in Burma. The couple has family living nearby who will be able to help them with the baby.