We’ll visit a family from Iraq. The mother (54), her 2 daughters (ages 20 and 24) and her granddaughter (5) have endured a great deal of hardship and heartache to arrive here. The family decided to leave Iraq in 2011 after two attempts to kidnap their only son. The father, the son and one daughter fled to Turkey where they have family. The mother and the older daughter, who was widowed and pregnant, went first to Syria for medical care and eventually arrived in Turkey via Beirut. Shortly after the family was reunited in Turkey and had applied for asylum, it was discovered that the father had end stage cancer. He died a few weeks later. The son and his wife fled to Finland, where they are still seeking legal status. The mother, her 2 daughters and her granddaughter waited 3 more years before being granted asylum in the USA. The family has been in Arizona for about 8 months. Both daughters are employed and doing well. Two of the mother’s nephews live in Phoenix and have been very helpful to them. They are so thankful to be here, to be safe and to have the support of neighbors like WTAP volunteers.
We’ll visit a family from Afghanistan. The father and mother have a young daughter (18 months). They have been in Arizona for a month. In Afghanistan, the father worked for the US Corps of Engineers as a civil engineer for more than 3 years. His work with the US government jeopardized his family’s safety, so he was granted a special visa to flee the country and resettle here. The father, who speaks very good English, is finishing up orientation classes at the IRC and then hopes to find a job. Asylum seekers who come on special visas are not afforded the same resettlement funds as others; there are only a few plates, a couple of glasses and two mattresses in this family’s apartment. A delivery from the Welcome to America Project will make a world of difference for this family as they start a new life here. They are especially excited to get sheets and blankets and toys for their daughter.
And we will visit a family from Burma (Myanmar). The father (27) and mother (27) have a son (5) and a daughter (3). The family suffered extreme persecution in their country because of their religious beliefs. The mother said they never felt safe and were in constant fear of their government. The father fled Burma with his family as a teenager in 2007. The mother fled with her family shortly after. The father and mother met in Malaysia, where they were seeking refuge, and married in 2011. Both of their children were born in Malaysia. The family has been in Phoenix for 2 months. The father, who worked in restaurants in Malaysia, has found work as a sushi chef. The mother stays home with the daughter while their 5-year old son attends a school close to their home. He likes his school and is learning English. This family has no relatives anywhere in the USA. They are very grateful for the support of strangers like the WTAP volunteers.
We will visit a 50 year old single woman from Teheran Iran who has five sisters and one brother still living in Iran under difficult conditions. She left Iran four years ago because of the persecution she experienced as a single woman and the difficulty she had in finding employment. She has a Masters Degree in Social Science and was employed as a social worker for ten years. She spent the last several years prior to leaving Iran taking care of her mother who was disabled following a stroke. Her mother died died six years ago. This refugee had previously emigrated to Canada years ago but had returned to Iran because she missed her family. She had been married briefly then divorced. When she left Iran four years age, she was initially in Malaysia, Indonesia and then Easter Island where she stayed for six months but none of these countries allowed her to remain. She ended up in Nauru island in an Australian immigrant detention facility where she lived for four years and described the conditions there as deplorable. She arrived in the United States in September and is excited to be here noting that “I love America.” Her English is good but she wants to improve it and will begin a language class next week. Her dream is to become an American citizen. She hopes to find employment soon so that she can send money back to her sisters who are struggling to survive in Iran. She has cousins living in the United States but has not had contact with them for years.
We’ll visit a 43 year old man is from Iran who arrived here 10 days ago alone His wife and 19 year old daughter are still living in Northern Iran which was the family’s home. He fled Iran four years ago as he had problems with the government because of his religious preference. He was in several countries before settling in an Australian immigration detention facility in the island of Nauru where he lived in miserable conditions for four years before arriving in America in September. He attended a trade school in Iran and worked for 10 years as a tool and die maker before becoming a boxing coach. He does speak some English but plans to attend classes next week to improve his language skills. His focus is to get his wife and daughter here as soon as possible. His wife is a homemaker, and his daughter is a university student in Iran. He has no family in the United States but has some support from a couple of Iranian friends who are living in the same apartment complex and news to the United States.
We’ll also visit a family from Iran who consist of a husband, age 36, his wife, age 33, and their daughter, age 18 months. They arrived in Phoenix in September. The family fled their country four years ago because of religious persecution. The husband had owned a clothing shop in Iran and traveled internationally with his business. His wife is an accountant and has a university degree. Their family remains in Iran with the exception of the husband’s brother who is living in Sweden. For four years they were in an Australian immigration detention facility on Nauru island where conditions were deplorable and they were traumatized by the conditions of camp. Both husband and wife are still recovering from their experiences as refugees and said that they have not formulated any plans for the future yet. Their English skills are limited but they hope to begin language classes next week.
And we’ll visit a young Cuban woman of 19 who resettled in Arizona in April. She had been living in Brazil, where her mother, a physician, had been working under a contract between the Cuban and Brazilian governments. Here, she shares an apartment with her mother, father, and two sisters. Her initial hope is to complete her high school education. She is expecting a baby in March.
We’ll visit a family of eight from Afghanistan who arrived just two months ago. They were able to relocate here because of the mother’s work with the US forces in Afghanistan. The children range from 19 to 2 years old; all but the 2-year old started school a few days ago. The family has some special needs, as the father and one son have quite limited vision. They feel fortunate to have a number of close relatives resettled nearby.
The second family arrived from Cuba a little over five months ago. The husband and wife have two children, a 9-year old daughter and a 1-year old son. The father was trained as an accountant in Cuba, but said it was difficult to find jobs there. He hopes to be able to further his studies and training in accounting here. Another relative, a young man 19 years old, lives with them. He wants to work and hopes to begin ESL classes as soon as he can.
We will also meet a man from Burma, who escaped a lifetime of persecution. He left Burma in 2012 to travel by boat to Indonesia then Christmas Island then Papua New Guinea. He spent four years on Papua New Guinea before being resettled in Phoenix. He has a wife and children still in Bangladesh
We will visit a family from Somalia. This family of nine (four girls, three boys) came to Arizona several months ago from Ethiopia, where they lived in a refugee camp for many years. Five of the children are in school, learning and liking their new environment. Their mother was pleased to find a temporary job, but it is about to end. Their father is still looking for work. While in the refugee camp it was not possible to get jobs. The parents are eager to find steady work here.
We’ll also meet a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo who speak Swahili. The parents escaped their war torn country and fled to Uganda and were in a refugee camp there for 20 years. DRC is too dangerous to return home. The family arrived in Arizona in May of 2017. Five of their six children (three boys, three girls) are now in school and their 1-year old daughter gets to stay home.