The first family we will visit and profile this week is a family of seven who are originally from Somalia. The husband left Somalia for South Africa in 2000 due to dangerous conditions. The wife left Somalia in 2003 for South Africa. The couple met in South Africa and all of their children were born in South Africa. They have three daughters ages nine, seven and four, and two sons ages five and one. They arrived in Arizona July of 2013. The husband worked as a welder in Somalia, and he sold food in South Africa. The family was able to learn English while they lived South Africa. They hope to improve their English and to find jobs here in Arizona. The mother’s command of the English language is so good that she is able to help with translation for other refugee families.
The second family we will visit is also originally from Somalia. The husband left Somalia for Ethiopia in 2003, where he was employed as a porter. The wife’s family fled Somalia to Ethiopia in 1991. The two met and married in 2004. They have an eight year old daughter and one year old son. They are also expecting a child in three months. They arrived in Arizona two months ago and they live near the wife’s family. They hope to learn English and to find work in their new home in Arizona.
The third family is from Iran. Twelve years ago, this family changed their religion to Christianity. Soon after the family changed religions, the father disappeared and has not been seen since. The mother was being pressured to change the family’s religion. She was threatened that, if she did not change religion, her children would be taken from her and she would be put in prison. She was also offered a house and money if she would change back to the dominant religion. She refused and fled to Turkey where the family lived for a little over a year. They arrived in Arizona in November of 2012. The mother (43) is not able to do heavy work due to disability. She has been in and out of the hospital four times since they arrived in Phoenix. The family lived in a shelter for a period of time but they are now able to move into an apartment again. The two boys are nineteen and fourteen years old. They are both attending school and the oldest is working part time. The oldest son enjoys science and math and would like to be a mechanical engineer. Both boys like basketball and swimming. The mother likes to read history and literature and to sew.