This Week’s Families

Family Bios: April 21, 2018


We’ll visit a 29 year old man from Eritrea.  He left his country 8 years ago due to the unstable political climate, an oppressive dictatorship and fear for his safety.  He fled to many refugee camps including Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt before finally staying at a camp in Israel for 7 years.  He arrived in the United States in early Feb. 2018.  He is looking for work here and getting established along with learning English.  He has previously worked in grocery stores and restaurants and hopes to find something similar here. He currently shares an apartment with another young refugee from Eritrea.


We’ll also visit a family of 7 from Damascus, Syria. They fled their home almost 4 years ago and journeyed to Jordan where the father found work painting cars.  Their home country was very unsafe due to the current war and they feared for their lives.  They arrived in June 2016 with their 4 children, (daughters now ages 5, 10 and 15) and son (now 17). The family just welcomed a newborn son just welcomed a son one month ago.  They feel very blessed he was born in the US. The older children are in school and very much enjoy it.  They are very relieved to be in the US where they feel safe.

Family Bios: April 14, 2018 (Morning Welcomes)

We will visit a couple and their 8-year-old son who arrived from Iraq a year and a half ago.  The father was as an electrician in Bagdad, working on large motors, installing cameras, and working on other large electrical equipment.  One day when leaving a shop, a bomb exploded badly injuring his leg.  Because he had a brother living in Arizona and a nephew in New York, they were allowed to come to America to receive medical care.  They left a lot of family in Iraq –  several brothers, sisters and parents – but are so happy to be in America.  They have been occupied with receiving medical care for the leg which eventually had to be amputated, but they have found the people here to be so kind and helpful.  They feel very safe and happy, and all they want is for their son to be educated and happy here in Arizona.


We’ll also visit a large family from Kurdistan. The father is 50 years old, he plays the tambour and sings.  Mom is 44 years old, she has some health issues for which she is seeing a doctor.  She likes plants and has some onions planted in a pot outside the apartment door.  They have six children, daughters ages 19, 17 and seven and sons ages 18, 14 and 9.  They arrived in Arizona last year, the younger children are in school and speak English well and translate for their parents.

Family Bios: April 14, 2018 (Afternoon Welcomes)

We’ll visit a family who consists of 6 members, dad, mom and 4 kids (3 boys and 1 girl).
Because of their religion, the dad and mom had to flea Burma and go to Malaysia where they met and got married and had their kids.  After living 20 years in Malaysia, the family was finally ablet o find asylum in the United States in June of 2015.  The dad works as a security personnel and the kids are very happy at school.



We’ll visit a Syrian family who consists of mom, dad, 4 boys & 2 girls.  They had to leave their country when the war broke and fled to Jordan.  In Syria, the dad worked in home construction and had his carpentry business.  Because of the war, they lost their home and their business was burnt to ashes.  The dad continued to work in construction in Jordan till he was diagnosed with severe arthritis and breathing issues.  They arrived to Arizona in May of 2016 and the dad is hoping to be approved for an early retirement since he can’t work with his condition.
One son witnessed an uncle being executed and still deals with the trauma today.



And we’ll visit a family of seven from Iraq. When the war started, the dad worked with the US army. Over tie, the family started to get threats and they had to flea their country for safety.  They first went to Turkey and remained there for 3 years until their documents were approved.  They arrived to Las Vegas in 2015 and relocated to Phoenix in 2016.  The husband works as a landscaper at a major hotel chain.  Their older son has heart issues but his health improved due to the medical attention he received in the US.  Now the family is happy and feels very safe.

Family Bios: April 7, 2017

We’ll a single man from Eritrea, who escaped persecution in his home country.  He fled to Egypt and Ethiopia, eventually living and working in refugee camp.  We will learn more about I’m when we visit.




We will meet a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The father’s parents were killed so he escaped to Uganda where he lived in a camp for 13 years.  He explained that the life in the camp was chaotic with little food, no health care or education for the children.  The mother and father in this family met in the camp, married and had five children ages 12 to 7 months.  The government of Uganda tried to force the refugees to go back to their countries.  This family did not want to go back and decided they would rather stay in camp and possibly die.  They applied for refugee status and were able to get out.  They resettled in California and lived there for six months.  Due to the cost of living they decided to come to Arizona where they have some friends and rent is much lower.  The father has a job, and is taking some time off due to back pain.  The two oldest children attend school and the mother stays home with the three youngest.  They are grateful for the opportunities and security they feel here.


And we will visit a Congolese family who arrived in March of this year.  The father is 45..  While he was in DRC his parents were killed and he escaped to Tanzania where he lived in a camp for 20 years.  While there he had a job, met his wife and they married.  They have four sons ages 19, 13, 11, and four and they have two daughters ages 10 and seven.  The parents and older son are taking English classes.  The younger children are enrolled in school.  Now that they are settled in Arizona, they feel safe, feel this is the country of opportunity and are grateful for the health care and Education.

Family Bios: March 31, 2018

We will visit a young family of three who came to Phoenix from Burundi, via Tucson.  The family arrived to Phoenix in January.  Their native language is Kirundi.  Resettling here meant leaving behind whatever household goods they acquired in Tucson, so their small apartment is quite bare.  Their young son is 2 ½ years old.  In Burundi they had a large farm which met many of their needs.   Both parents have found jobs here, though they would like to farm again someday.



We will also meet a large family from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They speak Kiswahili.  They arrived in Phoenix in December, having spent the past 20 years in a refugee camp in Uganda.  The children’s ages range from 8 years old to 20.  The 20 and 18 year old son and daughter must find work and the 16, 13, 12 and 8 year olds are in school and enjoying it.



And we will meet a man who served as a NATO guard for many years in his home country of Afghanistan. He received a service medal and many certificates of recognition and appreciation from NATO. He fled his home country in 2015 because of repeated death threats from the Taliban for his work with NATO. He went to Pakistan where he found work as a maker of grass rugs and other home products. His service with NATO was a great help during his three year process of getting clearance to come to the USA. He is currently working for Papa John in their refrigerated warehouse and is looking for a job that is closer to home as his current job is a 40 minute commute by bike and bus combination.

Family Bios: March 24, 2017

We’ll visit a 21 year old single male is from Myanmar who arrived in the United States in February 2018 from an Indonesian refugee camp.  He left his country in 2015 because he was fearful of being killed in his country.  He described horrific tortures and killing in the Rohingya villages where he lived.  He also told of a harrowing experience on the sea trying to escape this persecution.  He was on a boat for three months with other refugees seeking asylum, and they had little food or water.  A Malaysian military boat saw the desperate situation on the boat but refused to help them.  They sought refuge in Indonesia but were rejected.  Their boat then broke apart, and many refugees died but he was rescued from the sea by an Indonesian fishing boat.  He was sent to a refugee camp where he was able to learn some English.  He said that he had no access to education in Myanmar because he was Rohingya so he worked with his father on their farm.  The rest of the family escaped with their village in the “Big Exodus” of Rohingya in 2017.   His family currently living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.  This young man is very happy to be in the United States and his goal is to become educated and to work in the field of Human Rights.

And we will visit a family from Syria, who arrived in late 2016.  The family includes a husband, wife and their four children (a daughter, age 9 and three sons, ages 7, 11, 13).  We made an attempt to visit them earlier but the husband suffered burns at work and we postponed our visit.  His wife is a talented baker and assists with Syrian Sweets events.

Family Bios: March 17, 2018 (morning welcomes/deliveries)

We’ll visit family who consist of a mother, age 33, and her son who is 15.  They left the northern part of Myanmar in 2014. Her sister was in Malaysia and sent her money to pay someone to get her and her son across Thailand to Malaysia.  They were stopped in Thailand and both put in jail for 4 years.  She in an adult jail and her son who was 11 at the time in a children’s jail.  They were contacted by the UN while in jail and helped to transfer to their new home in Arizona.  The mom has a brother in another US state.  A sister, brother in law and a daughter remain in Malaysia.  Her son will soon start school.  The mother told the WTAO visitors of the powdery dry paste all over her face.  They call it Thanaka and it is made from ground wood and roots from regional trees.  It is worn like makeup, gives a cooling sensation to skin and provides protection from sunburn.  It is believed to help remove acne and promote smooth skin.  It is also an antifungal, she said.

This family is originally from the Congo.  The mother is 47 years old and has a seven year old daughter and three sons ages 19, 15 and 10.  In the Congo the mother was a vendor of fish and beautiful African clothes.  They left the Congo in 2012 and stayed in a refugee camp in Malawi.  During their stay in the camp, the mother cleaned UNCR offices. They arrived in Arizona on February 13th. All the children will attend school with exception of the oldest.  They have a neighbor refugee family that has been here for a while, has a car and helps them go get groceries.  They knew each other in the refugee camp.  They all understand some English and the oldest son speaks well.

Family Bios: March 17, 2018 (afternoon welcomes/deliveries)

We will visit a family, originally from Syria. Mom and dad have 2 sons. The family fled to Jordan in 2011 after their older son was shot. Thankfully, he has mostly recovered. In Syria, the dad was an entrepreneur, doing many varied jobs. Mom stayed home with her boys. The family arrived here in June 2016. Both boys are in school and speak English well. They have friends –  even some who are originally from Syria – and are helpful to their families with translation.  The mom said she is so happy to be in the USA. She exclaimed it is such a wonderful place and she is seeing things she never even imagined. She is happy to be here and safe with her family.



Another visit will be with a family from Burma (Myanmar) and Indonesia. The father is Rohingya. He escaped persecution in his country when he was only 15. He fled to Thailand and, 3 years later, continued on to Malaysia. There he met his wife, and Indonesian national. Both their daughters were born in Malaysia. They are expecting a baby in May. The family has been here since September 2015. Dad has been working all along while mom takes care of the girls. The family is excited to be moving soon. They will be heading to upstate New York to join friends from back home. They are grateful that The Welcome to America Project will be coming to wish them well and bring some items for their new baby and for the girls for their cross-country move.


We will also visit another family from Burma (Myanmar). Mom and dad have 3 children (12,11, 5). Mom did not want to talk much about her experience, but she did share that she was forced to leave her home as a little girl and was in a refugee camp for most of her life. The family is fortunate to have 2 sets of relatives right here in Phoenix. They are able to help each other out with babysitting and other family needs. Their older children are enjoying school and mom sad she is very grateful for things WTAP will bring, especially for her children.

Family Bios: March 10, 2018

We will visit a family who consists of a father, age 38, and a mother, age 35, and seven daughters, ages, 6 months, 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 15.  They are from Syria and were fleeing the war in their country.  They arrived in the United States in September 2016 and came to Arizona through a process provided by the United Nations.  Prior to leaving Syria, the father had worked in the construction business, and he is currently employed at as a custodian.  The mother has always worked in the home.  The family is happy, and are excited about being able to live and learn in a safe environment.  They remarked that  the education system is the best thing about being in the United States.  The family’s dream is to have their own home as they are all now living in a two bedroom apartment.


We’ll also visit a family from Eritrea who includes of a father, age, 46, and a mother, age 42, and eight children (three sons, ages 23, 11, and 10, and five daughters, ages 22, 19, 17, 13, and 6).  The family arrived from Eritrea in December 2015 fleeing government persecution.  The oldest daughter was the spokesperson for the family, and she said that “there was no freedom in her country”.   Her father, who was a farmer, lost his farm as the government confiscated it and the family’s home.  Her father is currently working as a gardener, and her mother began a job at a courier company.  The oldest son is disabled (deaf and mute).  The oldest daughter just graduated from high school, and she will be studying nursing at Phoenix College beginning in March of this year,  She said that her high school assisted her in getting financial assistance so that she could attend college.  She noted that all of the other family members are currently in school, and they all enjoy their educational experiences here.  She describes living in the United States as “great”, and the family’s dream is to have a house for their large family as they are now living in a two bedroom apartment.


And we will visit a Congolese family that includes a father, age 70, a mother, age 56, and three sons, ages 34, 25, and 16, and three daughters, ages 21, 18, and 14, and three grandsons, ages 6, 4, and 6 months.  Their oldest daughter has the three sons, and this family lives in a separate apartment in the same complex.  The family is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo but they fled their country in 1996, and they were in Tanzania in a refugee camp for 21 years before they came to the United States in June 2016 and settled in Arizona.  Prior to leaving his country, the father had his own boat and was a fisherman.  It was very difficult for him to work in the camp, and he developed a small business buying and selling items so that he could support his family.  The father is unable to work because of his medical problems but his wife is currently employed at a pizza chain. Their 25 year old son is working in a factory but wants to attend college and study mechanical engineering.  He is now trying to find financial assistance to attend school.  When asked about their experience in America, their 25 year old son who was studying English on the computer while we were at the home, responded that life is “great” compared to Africa but noted that it is still a struggle for the family.

Family Bios: March 3, 2018

We will visit a mother and her 8 year old daughter from Colombia. They fled after the father was murdered. They made their way to Quito, Ecuador, where they applied for asylum. They waited two years before being accepted for resettlement in the USA. They have been here 2 months.  The mother is an aesthetician. She was able to find work even when she was waiting in Ecuador. She hopes to return to this work here in Phoenix; she asked for nail care products so that she could keep practicing her trade.  Despite the fact that this family has no other family members or friends in Phoenix, they are settling in well. The daughter has made friends at school and her mother says their English is progressing well. The family is happy to be here and especially to be safe. They are looking forward to starting their new life here together.


The second family we will visit is from Eritrea. The mother and father both fled Eritrea, but separately. The father went first to Sudan, then to Libya where he stayed for 2 years, then to Egypt and finally to a refugee camp in Israel. Similarly, the mother fled first to Sudan, then went through Egypt to Israel. They reconnected in Israel in 2010. They have been in Phoenix for 2 months. The family has 5 children: 15, 13 and 10 year old girls, a 4 year old boy and a baby boy born a month after they arrived in Phoenix. All the children are doing very well. The family speaks multiple languages and their English is coming along well.  The family is industrious and hard working. The father and mother were both butchers. The father has also worked in hotels, supermarkets and gas stations; he has taken many jobs to support his family and has learned some English along the way. The mother has also worked in restaurants and housekeeping. She understands English, but would like to improve her speaking abilities. Both parents hope to get to work as soon as things are settled in their family. They are happy to be here all together and are already looking forward to saving enough money for a house.


We will meet a woman from Eritrea who has had a difficult life, her daughter and her grandson who live together in Phoenix.  Her husband died of illness when her firstborn son was only five and her daughter was only one.  She was forced to flee her village due to war in Eritrea. She moved to two different villages in Eritrea but due to continued war eventually fled to a refugee camp in Ethiopia.  Her son, now twenty-three has been her main source of financial support.  He was not able to participate in the resettlement process. She hopes that one day he will be able to join them in the USA.  Her daughter has a one year old son. The daughter’s  husband did not want to come to the US but felt the daughter should be wither mother. They hope that he   will eventually change his mind  and join them in AZ.