We will meet a young family from Burma (Myanmar) this weekend. The father and mother are Rohingya, one of the most persecuted ethnic minorities in the world. The father said he worked across the order in Bangladesh for some time. When it became too dangerous to go back and forth between Burma and Bangladesh because of the violence in Burma, he ran to Malaysia and sent for his wife. While they were waiting for asylum for 7 years in Malaysia, they had a little girl and a little boy. They are now pregnant with their third child. The family was first resettled in Utah. They arrived in Phoenix in May 2019. Since they could only afford to come from Utah with their car, they were not able to bring many of their belongings; they are setting up a new home from scratch, again. The father already has a job and has learned English quite well since they arrived in the USA. The older daughter is in school. Mom is at home with their toddler son and is looking forward to the new baby.
We will also visit a single gentleman from Iraq. He has been in Phoenix for almost 5 years, but he recently lost his apartment when the rent was dramatically increased and then had a heart attack and wound up in the hospital for a little while. He is back on his feet and in a new place, which WTAP will help to make a home. In Iraq, our client was a lawyer. He is studying now to try to improve his English (which he speaks quite well already) so as to take the bar exam here and one day be able to practice law again. He also assisted the US Armed Forces while in Iraq, and so was forced to flee his country to insure his safety. Our client is working as a cashier at the moment and is happy to be on the mend after his recent health issues. He has family in Texas and California, whom he recently visited. He mentioned that the best part about America is the people. He is looking forward to our volunteers coming to visit.
We will visit another family from Iraq: a mother and her two grown sons. In Iraq, the mother taught 4th grade and both of the sons were in school. The older son said that life in Iraq was very, very difficult – no safety, no security, no prospects, no hope. They are all very grateful to be here building a new life. The sons both speak English very well and their mother is learning. The boys have jobs and hope to have more education and eventually better jobs. They also have family here in the Valley who have been able to help them in their transition. The sons are especially excited to meet some Americans about their age during the upcoming WTAP welcome. They have a Monopoly game that they are hoping someone can help them learn how to play!
This weekend, we will visit two families from Eritrea, where civil war and persecution have been a constant in their lives. The first family includes a mother, her brother and her three children (ages 11, 10 and 8). The next is a family of four, including the father, mother and two children (ages 4 and 1). Both families arrived within the last few months and we will learn more about them and their journeys this weekend.
This weekend, we will visit a family of 6 who has recently arrived to Phoenix from Pennsylvania, where they first arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The mom, and her five children (ages 17, 15, 11, 7, 2, and 4 months) decided to move to Phoenix because they have family living here. The mom works for a hair product company, and the oldest daughter works at Whataburger. Four of the siblings are going to school in the Alhambra Elementary School District. The family is happy to be in Phoenix, where they are closer to the rest of their family.
We will also visit a family of 5 from Syria and a family of 11 from the Congo. We will welcome and learn more about these families on Saturday.
This weekend we will visit an apartment with roommates, one gentleman from Afghanistan and another from Eritrea. The young man, age 18, from Eritrea left his country when he was 14, staying in a refugee camp in Ethiopia for four months. He then went to Sudan where he stayed 8 months, and then to Egypt where he applied for refugee placement. He arrived in Arizona in June of this year. He would like to go to school and learn computer science, and hopes to help his family in the future. We will learn more about his roommate from Afghanistan on our visit on Saturday. They communicate with signs since they do not speak a common language.
We will also visit a family who is originally from the Congo. The mother, son (age 14) and four daughters (ages 3, 6, 9 and 11) arrived in June, but the oldest son (age 24) arrived about 8 months ago. They are all living together, and the oldest son is working. The mother has some medical issues she is trying to resolve in order to be able to start working. Before they left the Congo, the father was a farmer and the mother sold the food at different markets. The mother and her oldest son left the Congo in 2005 and stayed in a refugee camp in Rwanda. The son was able to complete high school and learned English. They are grateful to be here and appreciate the opportunities, peace, apartment, school and friends they have met.
We will also see a mother and her three children from Ethiopia. We’ll visit with them and learn more about their journey on Saturday.
This week’s families all come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The first family left the DRC in 1996 because of the fighting there. They fled to a refugee camp in Tanzania and were there from 1996 until this year, when they arrived in Phoenix in May. The father was in the camp from the time he was 14 years old. The parents met and married in the camp, where all of their children were later born. The father worked in the camp in sanitation, keeping it clean so diseases didn’t spread. The father’s parents are still in the camp, and he hopes to bring them here soon. The mother’s father died in January, and her mom is still in the DRC. The couple has 5 children, ages 13 (5thgrade), 8 (2ndgrade), 6 (1stgrade), 3½ and 1½. The kids started school in May and miss seeing their friends every day so they can’t wait to start back soon! The IRC is helping the dad get a job in a warehouse, which he will start next month, and their hope is for their children to pursue their educations. They want to meet many people and “not feel lonely.”
Our next family is two sisters and their families. The mom and her husband have two children, ages 3 ½ and 2, and her sister has two children, ages 3 and 1½. Her sister’s husband is still in the camp in Tanzania, where they fled in 1999 to escape the war. They also still have a brother in the DRC. They have been in Arizona for 2 months, after living in the camp for 20 years, since they were young children. They say it is good in Arizona, and they hope to find jobs and live a better life.
Our third family has also been in Phoenix for two months, and despite the heat, they love it here! The parents were in a refugee camp in Burundi for the past 14 years. They have a large family – the sons are ages 20, 15, 12, 10, 5, and 16 months and the daughters are 17 and 7 years old. They are eager to learn English. The oldest son graduated high school and wants to continue his education, but he will probably start working first. The father was an agriculture teacher, and his dream is to buy a house and provide stability for his family. They are currently in two apartments with the large size of their family, as well as a 22-year-old aunt also living with them.
We will visit a single mother and her five children from Democratic Republic of Congo. The mother was is refugee camp for 20 years and all but the youngest child were born in camp.
We will also visit a mother with her three children, ages 18, 14 and 11 years old. The family lived in Afghanistan originally, then in India for the past five years. They are very happy to be in the US and just arrived in June. Both daughters are enrolling in school, while the son is starting a “cleaning” job at the airport. The family enjoys reading, and has plans to visit the nearby library. The mother currently does not work but would like to start sewing again. They speak Farsi/Dari, however the son is able to communicate very well in English. The family has lost both their father and brother. The father went missing for three years and his body was later left at their home. The other brother was killed about six years ago in a suicide bombing. These were the harsh realities that they fled. The mother expressed that now that she is in the U.S. her “mind is relaxed and is sleeping well now; there is now food for her family”.
And we will visit a mother with her two daughters, who are originally from Afghanistan, but were forced to flee to Turkey due to war. The daughters are ages 10 and 11 and are sharing a bedroom. Both are enrolled in school and looking forward to using a computer. The family speaks Farsi. The father was killed in Afghanistan during the war. The mother and daughters spent three years in Turkey, during which time the mother worked as an office assistant. The mother would now love a job utilizing her sewing skills.
The families we will see today include one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a widow and her three adult children – a daughter, age 23, and two sons, ages 26 and 27. They left their country almost 16 years ago and have lived ever since in a Burundi refugee camp, where her husband died. This March they were relocated to Arizona, where they have settled in well. One son received a scholarship in the refugee camp which allowed him to study to be a teacher. He hopes to be able to teach here.
We will see a Syrian family, who also arrived this March. The young couple have two children, a 9-year old son and a 6-year old daughter. When they were forced to leave their country seven years ago, they fled to Jordan, then relocated to Saudi Arabia, and had to return to Jordan before finally being resettled in Arizona. They spoke of how much they appreciated and were moved by the warm welcome they received when they got off the airplane in Phoenix. The father is a skilled carpenter and hopes to find such work here. Their children liked their first months of school here very much.
We will also visit also visit a family of 10 from Tanzania. Mom and Dad are from the DRC but lived the last 20 years in a camp in Tanzania, where they met and all their children were born. In Tanzania, Dad worked in a medical lab at a UN-run hospital, and he would like to work in the same type of job here. He also attended the John Maxwell School of Leadership and was active in supporting orphans and “those who did not have a voice.” He would very much like to get back in touch with his group in Tanzania to be sure the work is still being done. They have been in the US just over 1 month. Mom and Dad are both very proud of their children (3 sons and 5 daughters), whose ages range from 8 month to 15 years. The older children are enrolled in school and are starting to understand English.
We’ll visit a young man originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He fled with his family seven years ago when their village was attacked. Separated from the rest of the family along with his father, they initially traveled to Burundi, where his father later died. He was then sent to a camp in Kenya where he completed high school and was reunited five years later with his mother and six siblings. He was given the option to come to the United States by himself this year, and his family encouraged him to take advantage of this opportunity, but he hopes to eventually have his family join him in the United States. He asked to be sent to Arizona because he had a very close friend here who arranged for him to stay temporarily with another friend. Since arriving in Arizona three months ago, he has found employment and is also attending classes to earn his GED at Rio Salado College. He hopes to have his own apartment with a friend in the future, and is planning on attending college to study nursing. He has become involved in a Congolese Church where members are very supportive of him and appreciate his musical talent. He sings and plays guitar in their services.
We’ll also visit a Rhohinga family of four from Myan Mar, including mom, dad, a seven-year old son and a four-year old daughter. Dad left Myan Mar in 1995 for Malaysia, where he met his wife in 2011. Dad worked construction in Malaysia and is now working at a tissue paper factory. All family members are learning English and their son is in school. They are happy to be in the United States and starting their new life.
We’ll visit a newly arrived family of 10 from the Democratic Republic of Congo and learn more about them on Saturday.