This Week’s Families

Family Bios: June 23, 2018 (World Refugee Day Phoenix)

We will welcome a mom and her 3 children from Afghanistan. The family fled Afghanistan in 2016, and was in Pakistan for 2 year before being granted asylum. The mother took care of her daughter, who is disabled, and her 2 sons, and she worked with the older son making rugs to support the family.  The family arrived in Phoenix in April. The boys were enrolled in school and love it. In fact, the mother said they are sad to come home every day, wishing they could go to school day and night! The mother expressed how hard it is to resettle in a new home, especially without family or friends nearby, but indicated that she is so grateful to be here safely with her children.

 

We will also welcome a family of asylum seekers originally from Egypt. The family’s safety was endangered back home when they converted to Christianity. They fled to Hong Kong in 2015. The mother and 2 sons arrived here a few months ago; they are still waiting for the father to be granted asylum to join them here.  In Egypt, the mother was an accountant and the father was a pharmacist. The children attended an American school where they learned English. In Hong Kong, the parents were not permitted to work, but the boys could attend school and continued to be taught in English. The mother said that her younger son doesn’t even remember any Arabic now.  The boys are doing well in school. The family is happy to be here, but they miss their father.

 

And we will meet a couple from the Congo region of Africa who arrived here with their 5 month old son at the end of May 2018.

Family Bios: June 16, 2018

We will meet a family from Syria. A mother, father and 3 boys ages 16, 13 and 12. Dad is still waiting to get his papers to come to the states and hopes to soon join his family. Back in Syria, a 4 year old daughter had a liver disease and when the war started they couldn’t give her the medical attention needed.  Unfortunately, she lost her battle to cancer. It was very devastating for the whole family. Their youngest son has the same disease and they knew that they need to leave the country to give him a chance to survive. They left Syria hoping to come to the US. They went to a refugee camp in Turkey for 2 1/2 years and arrived to the states in January of 2017.  The boys are going to school and can’t wait for their dad to join them. Mom is working at a bakery to support herself and the kids.

 

 

 

We will also from Saudi Arabia who consists of a mom and 2 kids. Her son is 6 and daughter 5.  The mother left a physically abusive marriage to protect herself and her kids.   The mother is highly educated and was a bio chemist back home. When she came to the states she studied to be a pharmacy technician and now searching for a job to support her family.

 

 

We will also meet roommates in their early 30s from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They fled the dangers of war and have lived most of their loves in refugee camp. They arrived to AZ in May of this year.

Family Bios: June 9, 2016

We will meet three families, all from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The families arrived to AZ in recent months, having lived most of their lives in the refugee camp.  The DRC is a war ravaged country and the families risked kidnapping, military enslavement and death if they returned to their country.  Nearly all of the children we will meet were born in refugee camp, some of whom are now in their teens.

Family Bios: June 2, 2018 (Afternoon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will meet three young people moving into their first apartments.  Two women (Guatemal, Eritrea) and one man (Burundi).  All three arrived to the United States as teenagers and were fostered by US families.  We will learn more about their journeys when we welcome them to their new homes.  They will be neighbors in the same apartment complex.  We look forward to giving all three a proper welcome to America.

Family Bios: June 2, 2018 (Morning)

We will meet a family from Ethiopia.  The mother in this family (currently 19 years old) left Ethiopia with a friend when she was 14 years old.  She arrived in Nairobi and lived in a home for single women for five years before being relocated and settled here.  She arrived on Valentine’s day with her 5 year old daughter.  The mother understands some English and will enroll in English classes.  She likes vases with flowers in them.  The daughter is she counts to ten, knows her ABC’s and is very eager to learn.  They have met another family who lives near by and is helping them get to the store and adjust to their life here.

 

 

We will meet a woman originally from Pakistan.  She taught English and Social Studies to children in first and second grade.  She is Christian and taught mostly Muslim children, because of the religious difference her life was threatened so she left for Sri Lanka.  She lived there three years before being relocated here.  She has brothers and sisters who live in Pakistan.  She has a master’s degree in education and applied for a substitute teaching certificate.  She is eager to find a job as a teacher’s assistant so she can learn the school system, then work her way to teaching.  She has computer skills and is looking forward to having a computer and musical keyboard to help with her teaching.  Her favorite colors are green and blue.

 

 

We will meet two men who were placed together as roommates.  They are 51 and 53 years old and both from Pakistan.  Back in Pakistan they both have wives and children with whom they hope to reunite.. The 53 year old man has not hugged his family for 5 years since he left Pakistan.  He was detained while trying to get to Australia and sent to the island of Nauru.  He explained conditions were extremely hard there:  20-25 men per tent, hot and humid weather, no trees for shelter, limited drinking water and expired food.  Because they also have limited medical care on the island, he was sent to Australia for care and was arrested in the middle of the night and sent back to Nauru without medical care.  In Pakistan, he owned his own auto repair shop for 28 years.  He is eager to get back on his feet, buy needed tools and eventually open his own auto repair and body shop.  He speaks English well.

Family Bios: May 19, 2018

We’ll meet a family who consists of a mother, her 2 boys, ages 6 & 8 and a grandmother.  They escaped the Congo because of the war and came to Arizona  a month ago.  Back home they used to be farmers.  They worked very hard in the fields to grow potatoes, beans and vegetables.  They plan on working harder in the states to be self sufficient and provide for the kids.  They are hoping to own a car and maybe a house one day.  So far they are very happy to be living in a safe country and looking forward for a better future.

 

 

We’ll also visit two Congolese brothers who lived in refugee camps for 18 years.  While in camp, they went to school and tried to live a normal life.  The oldest brother studied finance but decided to be a tailor, something that his dad taught him since he was a kid.  He got engaged few years back but his fiancee wasn’t able to come with him.  He’s trying to bring her to the state and very hopeful to be together again.  The younger brother studied technology and would like to go back to school to continue his studies and work on computer maintenance. They said that they don’t have much but they have each other and looking forward to be reunited with the rest of their family.

 

And we’ll meet a father and daughter who escaped years of religious persecution in Iran.  We will learn more about their story when we visit on Saturday to welcome them to America.

Family Bios: May 12, 2018

What an arduous journey one of this week’s families had to make to arrive safely in the USA! The mother, is a native of Kuwait who married a man from Iraq.  She and her husband lived in Iraq and had 2 children, a son and a daughter. When her husband was killed, she fled the country with her children and moved back to Kuwait.  After a time, she married a man from Egypt. Together they raised her first 2 children and had 2 more. But her first children could not become Kuwaiti citizens or attend school or work, and they could not return to Iraq. She sought and obtained asylum for her 2 older children who then came to the USA and lived with an aunt and uncle.  For 3 years, this family remained separated. Just last month, she arrived here with her 2 younger children; she was 8 months pregnant.  Unfortunately, her husband was not allowed to come and remains in Egypt.  She shared this story with tears in her eyes. She is so grateful to be back with all her children, and happily welcomed the newest American member of their family 2 weeks ago.  It has been a hard journey to get here, but the family is glad to be safe and together now. Welcome to America!

We will also visit a single man from Senegal. He was persecuted in Senegal for his identity and fled to Morocco. He was in Morocco for 9 years awaiting asylum.  In Morocco, he learned to cook.  In fact, he is a chef specializing in Moroccan and European cuisine. He arrived in Phoenix just a month ago and was delighted to find a friend he had met back in Morocco living just a few miles away. When our volunteers visited, he was very excited about an upcoming interview for a job in a restaurant.    He said he was really grateful to have people (the WTAP home visitors) with whom to converse.  As our volunteers were leaving, he offered his heartfelt thanks. He said he never expected anything like this to happen, and that he was really left without adequate words. Welcome to America, neighbor!

Another family we will visit is from Democratic Republic of Congo. Dad fled after his parents were both killed in the war. He lived in camp for 12 years. Mom fled with her family when she was just a little girl. She lived in a refugee camp for 18 years.  Mom and dad met in camp, fell in love and got married. They had 4 children before being granted asylum. Since arriving in the USA 18 months ago, there has been a new a new addition to their family, a baby boy.  The family is so thankful to be here all together. The children are doing very well in school and speaking English. Dad is working a job he enjoys. Mom was so excited to get a picture of all of their children, which we will bring back for her to hang on the wall. Welcome neighbors!

Family Bios: May 5, 2018 (Afternoon)

This weekend we will meet a family whose amazing journey of courage, perseverance and hope has finally led them to a new home in Arizona.

The couple are both originally from Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, the father was a graphic designer. Besides running his business, he used his skills to actively challenge his government. His outspoken criticisms resulted in his shop being commandeered and shut down by political forces, and in 2010 he fled to Sudan.

His wife worked in her family’s store. Despite the fact that she only lived a few blocks away, she did not know her now-husband back in Ethiopia. Her father was also outspoken against the Ethiopian government. One day, while she was away, the government came and took her father; he disappeared and has not been seen since. Her mother called her and warned her to run away to escape the government agents searching for her. So, in 2010 she fled to Sudan.

The couple met in Sudan, but they did not stay there long. The Sudanese government made arrangements with Ethiopia to return asylum seekers. Fearing that, if they were returned to Ethiopia they would both face death, they fled onward to Egypt. Their hopes of finding safety in Egypt were quickly dashed. With the onset of the Arab Spring in 2011, they found themselves once again in danger. As practicing Christians, they constantly felt unsafe. Their fears were confirmed when the husband was kidnapped. Thankfully, their very kind and generous landlady was able to pay his ransom. When he finally came back, the landlady secured them safe passage to South Africa.

The couple really liked South Africa, but it was still not a very safe place for foreigners like them. He was able to start a small business selling clothes, but in a short time it was intentionally burned to the ground. Clients were robbed of everything and at this point they contacted the United Nations High Commission on Refugees to seek asylum.

Their asylum process began officially in 2015 and coincided with their decision to get married. The couple talked about the numerous interviews they submitted to as part of the vetting process. In all, they recall 8 or 9 very long, arduous interviews to establish their stories: who they are, where they came from, and why they needed asylum. They were one interview away from securing passage to the USA when our government changes the policies on refugee acceptance. It took another 9 months for them to finally come to the USA, and they arrived with their 10-month old son.

They are so happy to be here, to finally be safe and know that they can raise their son in peace. They both understand speak English very well. They have only been here a couple of weeks, but are eager to start their new life. They said they like Phoenix and, after meeting with the WTAP home visitors, the husband said, “I am so happy. Today I feel like I am really in America. Thank you!”

We will also meet a single mother from Burundi and her 7 and 2 year old daughters. The family found air passage to Brazil and then journeyed to the United States, often by foot. All of their relatives in Burundi have been killed. They fled the country for their safety and have been here less than a month. The 7 year old speaks 5 languages and looks forward to school. Mom was pregnant when she left Burundi and expects to deliver soon.

Family Bios: May 5, 2018 (Morning)

We will meet a family who were originally from Burundi but actually met and married in a refugee camp in Tanzania.  The wife fled with her family to Tanzania when she was 10 years old, and she lived in a camp from 1993 to 2005.  The  have five children, two sons ages 11 and 4, and three daughters, ages 10, 9, and four months.  The father, age  37, and his wife, age 31, said they were able to come to the States in 2007 because  they were granted a visa by the American government.  They originally settled in Arizona where the wife worked as a housekeeper but the husband had difficulty finding consistent  employment so they moved to South Dakota. They came back to the Phoenix area where the husband is now employed by Papa John’s, and the wife hopes to return soon to her previous job with JBS packaging beef. The children enjoy school, and the family is pleased to be in the United States.  They have no relatives here, and the wife’s parents were not able to remain in Tanzania and are currently living back in Burundi.  The mother’s dream is for her children to all finish high school and attend college.

We’ll also meet a single mother, age 35, with two sons, ages 12 and 2, and a daughter, age 11.  She is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and fled the fighting and war in her country in 1996 with her family when she was a child.  They settled in a refugee camp in Tanzania where she later met and married her the father of her children who remains in camp.  She was working as a produce worker recently and is focused on the importance of finding new work as soon as possible so that she can better support her family.  The children are doing well in school, and she is pleased that they will have opportunities here for further education.

 

And we’ll meet a family from Democratic Republic of Congo that includes three generations, grandmother, husband and wife and their 5 children (daughters 9, 12 and 19 and sons 15 and 23). All of he children were born in refugee camp in Tanzania and have never been to their home country because of the dangers of return. The family has be here just over a year and is very focused on education. Dad and son are employed to support the family so that the others can stay in school, including college.

Family Bios: April 28, 2018

We’ll visit a family from Somalia. The mother and father fled the war in Somalia in 1996 and went to Kenya. The remained “displaced people” for 13 years before gaining access to a United Nations Refugee Camp. They underwent years of vetting before being resettled in the USA. Both of their girls (ages 12 and 16) were born in Kenya. The family originally resettled in Tucson. After a year, they moved to Nashville. Even though the father found good work as a manager for shipping with UnderArmour, they missed Arizona. They returned to Phoenix in January. Due to costs, they were unable to bring their household furniture and items with them. Back in Somalia, the father was a baker. Since leaving he has done odd jobs and is especially proud of the letter of recommendation he received from UnderArmour, his employer in Nashville. He is still looking for work here and is optimistic that something will come along. The daughters are doing well in school. They speak Somali, Swahili, French and now English and might continue their schooling in Kenya. The mother and father were both tremendously grateful for the support of WTAP in their efforts to start life, again, here in Arizona. They asked the home visitors to share their blessings with all their new neighbors.

 

We will also visit a family from Democratic Republic of Congo. The mother escaped the violence in DRC 15 years ago. She fled with a baby and a toddler to Burundi. After years of waiting, she arrived in Phoenix in January with her 6 children, 4 of whom were born in camp. The mother recently found a job which she excitedly announced during WTAP’s initial home visit. The older children are in school and doing well, she said. When asked how she liked being in America, through a translator the mom said she is very grateful to know that her family is safe now.

 

 

And we’ll meet a family who fled Bhutan for refugee camp in Nepal in 1993 due to ethnic cleansing in their country. The father was born after his parents arrived in Nepal and lived all of his life in a refugee camp. He met his wife in there and married in 2012. Their son was born in 2014. The husband worked in construction in Nepal while his wife stayed home with the baby. They arrived in Phoenix 12/20/17. The husband is employed at a local Phoenix dairy earning a good living taking care of the dairy cows.