This Week’s Families

Family Bios: October 28, 2017

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.

Family Bios: October 21, 2017

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.

Family Bios: October 14, 2017

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

Family Bios: October 7, 2017

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. 

Family Bios: September 30, 2017

We’ll visit a family from Democratic Republic of Congo who consists of a mother, age 32, her son, age 2, and daughter, age 7. The mother fled Congo to refugee camp when her father was killed. She does not know where her mother is. She taught French in the refugee camp for 4 years. She resettled in Arizona in June of this year. She says their life is good here. Her daughter is going to school, mom is taking English classes and the family attends church.


We’ll also a family of three from Iraq. The husband, age 36, was working with the American Army and began receiving threats do to this association. All of their friends left Iraq because of similar dangers. The family came directly to Arizona. The husband is a photographer. The mother (age 36) was a pre-school teacher. They have a son who is two years old. They enjoy the peace and safety in the US. They look forward to finding work and hope to reconnect with siblings that are still in Iraq.



And we will visit a brave young woman from Democratic Republic of Congo who is 19 years old. She fled Congo as a child and does not remember her parents. From the Democratic Republic of Congo, she went to Kenya where she lived in the city for 2 years. While in Kenya, she met a man and married him. He remains in Kenya, a separate case, who has so far not been able to join her. She arrived in to the US July 2017 and has just recently started working. She is working with her case manager and hopes to have her husband join her eventually.

Family Bios: September 23, 2017

We will meet a family from Burundi who escaped persecution and fled to refugee camp. This family includes a mother age 24 and her son who is three years old. They arrived to the US in Spring 2017 and live in an apartment with the mother’s sister.  The mother left Burundi in 1993, when she was a young baby and headed for Tanzania where they lived in a refugee camp. She has a sister in Uganda, a brother who is lost, and two sisters who are minors living with her in Arizona and already employed. Her son is an energetic, quick learner and already adapting to his new home


We’ll visit a family from the Congo region of Africa who arrived in late July of this year. They include a husband, wife and their five kids, ages 9 to 17. The entire family has lived most of their life in refugee camp. Most of the children were born in refugee camp. Their Phoenix apartment is their first real home.




We will visit two young men who were part of an unaccompanied minors program. One, age 19, is from Ecuador. The other, age 20 is from Honduras. They escaped dangers in their home countries and were in foster care in the United States. We will help them to settle into their first ever apartments. The boys work and attend school.

Family Bios: September 16, 2017

We’ll visit a family originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo from where they fled 20 years ago because of war in the country. Before coming to the United States in July of this year, they lived in a refugee camp called Changwamein Uganda. The family consists of a mother & father, and 6 children, 4 girls and 2 boys, ages 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 1. All but the youngest two are in school. When the family lived in the Congo, the father worked as a farmer. She is searching to find employment here in Phoenix. The family is so grateful to be here in Arizona.



This family also is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo from where they fled in 2011 because of war in the country. They lived in a refugee camp in Malawi until they immigrated to the United States in June 2017. The family consists of the mother, age 36, and two daughters, ages 6 and 17. Her husband went missing when they were fleeing from the Congo, and the family just found out that he is alive and living in Mozambique. They are hopeful that he may be reunited with the family in the future. The two daughters are enrolled in school, and they are learning English as is the mother who is taking language classes. When the family lived in the Congo, the father worked as a farmer and a barber. The mother did work as a tailor in the refugee camp to support the family. She is currently looking for employment, and her resettlement agency is helping her locate a job. The older daughter was present during the visit, and she shared that her goal is to learn English and then she hopes to study medicine and become a doctor. The family is thankful that they are now living in a stable and peaceful environment in Arizona.


We’ll also visit a young women from Mexico, age 20, who arrived as a minor and has been in a foster home.  We will help settle her into her first apartment.  She works and attends school.

Family Bios: September 9, 2017

We’ll visit a family that includes a mother, age 44, and father, age 59. They have two sons, ages 20 and 8, and a daughter, age 6. In addition, there is a close family friend who lived with them in the refugee camp, and she has three sons, ages 16, 13, and 6 so there are a total of nine people living in this household. The family fled the Congo thirteen years ago because of the war in their country, and they settled in a refugee camp in Uganda. They were farmers in the Congo, and they continued that work in the refugee camp. The family came to the United States eight months ago and initially settled in California. They moved to Arizona three months ago because of the high cost of living in California and the difficulty they had in finding employment. The father is currently working as is the 20 year old son. The mother is looking for work, and her friend (who the family refers to as an aunt) is remaining home to take care of the children. The family is happy to be in the United States, and they are hopeful that their children will receive a good education here.


We’ll visit another family whose extended family consists of three generations. There are eleven people living in the household. The paternal grandmother, age 75, the father, age, 47, the mother, age 40, and eight children. There are five boys, ages 13, 11, 7, 4 and 2, and three girls, ages 9, 8, and 3 months. The youngest child was born premature. She is still on oxygen and has already had cardiac surgery but she appears to be doing well now. The family is Eritrean but the grandparents fled the war in Eritrea and settled in a refugee camp in Sudan where all of their children and grandchildren were born except for the youngest child, who was born in the US. The parents received religious education but did not go to a public school. The family was brought to Arizona in December 2016 by the IRC because of the war that was then going on in Sudan. The wife is a homemaker. The husband worked in a restaurant as a waiter in Sudan. He was employed for a month in a Phoenix warehouse before his mother became ill and was hospitalized. He quit his job to take care of her, and he is now looking for employment. The children now “love school” and they are teaching their mother English. She was going to language classes at IRC but had to leave after two weeks because she delivered her daughter prematurely. When asked about the dreams they have for the family, the mother focused on the importance of their children being educated and having the opportunity for a bright future.

And we’ll visit a family who consist of three generations, six people living in the household. The grandmother and grandfather, three daughters, ages 22, 21, and 11, and a granddaughter, age 6. The grandparents are from Somalia, and they fled their country 25 years ago because of the civil war. They lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia where they met and married and had their three children. They worked as shopkeepers in the camp to sustain their family. They were brought here by the IRC eight months ago, and they “are still adjusting to life in the United States but do love it here.” The grandfather is working at a laundry and the grandmother is employed at Papa Johns, working in their kitchen. Her 22 year old daughter is working at the Pepsi warehouse and her 21 year old is still looking for employment. The dream for the family focuses on their children getting an education in America and making a happy life for themselves.

Family Bios: August 26, 2017

We’ll visit a husband, age 20, a wife, age 18, and their 10 month old son who are of Rohinga origin.  The husband’s parents fled Myanmar in 1992 because they were being persecuted by the Buddhist majority in the country.  They settled in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, and this is where the husband was born and lived until he was 15.  His father worked in the camp for the government, and his son was able to attend school and learn English.  At age 15, his parents urged him to go to Indonesia as they saw no future for him in the camp.  He met and married his wife in this refugee center but was not allowed to work there and survived on government assistance.  His wife,  whose parents also fled from Myanmar, has family members now living in India.  They both have dreams for their future and want to be involved in professions in which they will help others.  The husband wants to become a doctor although presently his focus is find employment so he can support his family. His wife’s dream is to become a teacher.  The couple have no family members in this country but the husband has two friends in their apartment complex from their country who have been supportive of them since they arrived in Phoenix in early June.

We’ll visit a family from from Iraq that includes of a husband, age 49, his wife, age 37, two daughters, ages 15 and 2, and a son, age 17.  They have a daughter, age 20, who is married and has two daughters who is still living in Iraq.  They are very concerned about her welfare.  The wife’s brother lived with them and worked for for a U.S. entity at the airport.  Because of his association, the family received threats on their lives.  The brother quit his job because of the threats, and he is now in the process of immigrating to America.  The husband was a professional soldier who was injured during the Iraq/Iran war.  He has been retired since 1987 because of his injuries, and his wife has not worked outside of the home.  The family came here to find a new life in which they could be free from danger and threats to their lives.  The parents said they are so thankful that they are now living with their children in a country where they are safe and live in peace.  The two older children are now in school and learning English, and their parents are learning English at the IRC and from their adolescent children.  The father is involved in looking for work with the help of IRC, and he is hopeful that he will find employment soon.  The wife has a sister living in Phoenix, and she has been very supportive of the family since they arrived in mid June.  The parents hope that they can bring their daughter and her family to the States so that their family can be united.

And we’ll visit a family from Somalia, who became refugees when the war broke out in the early 1990’s and they escaped to a refugee came in Kenya. The couple has seven children and two grandchildren, nearly all of whom were born in refugee camp.  The couple and their family lived in the refugee camp for 20 years, until they were resettled in Arizona.  The family’s hope for the future is that they will integrate and adjust to life in the United States.  They plan to work hard and see a bright future for their children through education.