This Week’s Families

Family Bios: April 29, 2017

One family we will visit is also from Iraq. The mom (54) lives with her 3 grown daughters (ages 29, 27, 26). The eldest daughter has been in Phoenix for 16 months; the rest of the family arrived in December 2016 after waiting 7 years to be granted asylum. In Iraq, the 2 older daughters worked in a bank and the younger daughter was a physical fitness trainer. All three young women speak English and are employed; the mother is going to English classes. The family is happy to be here and all together. They especially like the weather in Phoenix which reminds them of home.

Another family we will visit is a young Rohingya mother (27) from Burma and her 2 young sons, ages 6 and 8. The family arrived in February. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority ethnic group in Burma. They are not legally allowed to work or attend schools. Often, the fathers, who face the most persecution, flee first and then are followed by their families. For this family, the father wound up in Malaysia, while the mother and the 2 boys fled to Indonesia. They have been separated since they fled. The older son is happy in school, but the younger son does not want to leave his mother. The mom is especially distressed that her husband remains in Malaysia and wants desperately to be reunited with him. In the meantime, she ahs found some other Rohingya families in her apartment complex that she has befriended.

We will also visit a family  from Iraq. The Father (35), Mother (17), and son (1) arrived February 2017 in Phoenix. The family came directly from Iraq to Arizona. The husband’s father and sister from Iraq arrived in Phoenix in April. Extended family members also reside in Texas. Two sisters and two brothers are still in Iraq. Family members worked for the US Armed Forces in Iraq. After 2005 the family needed to flee due to safety. In 2013 the family was separated and applied for visas to come to the United States. They are very happy to be in Arizona and they are very appreciative for all of the help they are receiving. They are already friendly with other resettled families and they are looking forward to their new life in America.

Family Bios: April 22, 2017

One family we will visit came from Cuba.  The father, age 35, studied gastronomy.  He is very interested in working in the food and wine industry.  The mother, age 43, has a degree in economics and worked in a boutique in Cuba.  They made about $15.00 per month each in Cuba.  They left by plane on a tourist visa to Mexico and crossed the border through Nogales.  They were very worried about making the trip with their daughter, age 12.  The trip was hard but they made it safely.  They arrived in Arizona September of 2016.  The mother and father are working and the daughter is attending school.  The parents speak English well and attend English classes.


Another is two brothers who recently moved out of their sister’s apartment into their own.  They are originally from the Congo and arrived in Arizona in 2011 with their sister and her family.  Since their arrival, the younger brother has been attending school and will graduate from high school this year.  He plans on attending Phoenix College while he works.  He also loves to draw.  The older brother finished his high school degree online, is currently attending Phoenix College for a culinary degree and plans on going to ASU for a business degree.  He has had jobs at the airport and currently works at a Café.  The older brother speaks English very well and loves to answer questions.  He said: “I love questions because that means people are interested.”


The other family we will visit is a family of 11. This family arrived from Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015, but need a bit of extra assistance with so many kids. We look forward to visiting them and learning more about their interests.

Family Bios: April 15, 2017

The first family is a woman age 43 from Cuba and her partner age 33.  The two women left Cuba to do internships in Venezuela.  One is an orthodontist and the other is a doctor.  They spent five years and nine months in Venezuela then made their way to Brazil where they spent seven months. They were accepted as refugees and spent one month in Miami before arriving in Phoenix.  They both want to get a job and slowly work their way back to the dental and medical fields.  They speak a little English and they like music.


The second family is a brother age 31 and his sister.  They graduated from medical school in Cuba and went to Venezuela for an internship.  From there they went to Colombia where they lived for five months in tough conditions because they did not have a work permit.  As they arrived in the United States, they spent a month in Miami until they were placed in Phoenix on March 15th, 2017.  They, speak some English, have some aunts in Miami and miss their family in Cuba very much.  They will not be able to return to Cuba for eight years, after that they can return to visit their parents and one brother in Cuba.


The third visit is to two men also from Cuba that did not know each other prior to being placed together in apartment.One is 45 years old and has worked as a doctor for 20 years.  He left a wife in Cuba to do a medical internship in Venezuela where he worked 7 years.  Next, he went to Brazil where he worked 3 years doing another internship.  From Brazil, he was accepted as a refugee and spent 45 days in Miami before being resettled in Phoenix.  He hopes to bring his wife to Phoenix.  The second man is 32 years old and graduated in medicine in 2011.  He also went to Venezuela for an internship where he worked 4 years.  Next, he went to Colombia where he stayed five months until he was accepted as a refugee in the United States.  They both like music and soccer and look forward to getting jobs and learning English.


This week we will deliver to three brothers and their families, all of whom are from Afghanistan. There are 17 family members in total. The oldest brother is married and has six children, ages 9 to 18. The next brother and his wife have two boys, ages 3 and 1. The third brother and his wife have a 2 year old son and are expecting a child in the coming months.
The brothers were quite successful in Afghanistan and owned transportation and security businesses. They also were land owners and the families lived a comfortable and safe existence. Then, about 15 years ago, Taliban forces stole their land and threatened their businesses with extortion. The family was attacked and fled into hiding in Pakistan. In subsequent encounters, one of the brothers was shot several times but survived the ambush. For many years, the family has continued to move locations in Pakistan and Afghanistan to hide from their enemies. The brothers lost their business and could not work in hiding. The children had difficulty attending schools.
The families arrived to the US early this year. Two of the brothers quickly found work in service industries and the third brother expects to start work soon. They are especially motivated not just to provide for their families but also because a fourth brother, still unsafe in his homeland, hopes to join them in our country. The older children have started school and are quite happy to be learning and living in a safe environment.

Deliveries: April 8, 2017

Our first family is from Syria, consisting of a father, mother, and their 4 children.  The father worked as a glass factory manager in Syria and the mother was a homemaker.  The mother attended college prior to the war and studied English, which she speaks very well.  The family fled to Jordan in 2013, and spent 3 months in a camp, and then were able to live in the city where they stayed for 3 years awaiting their application to be approved for refugee resettlement.  The parents were not allowed to work in Jordan, but the children were able to attend school.  The youngest child was born in Jordan.  They were approved for resettlement and came to the US in July 2016.  The 3 older children started school soon after arriving and all enjoy school.  The mother who speaks English has been a great asset to both her family and the Arabic speaking community at her apartment complex.  The father has begun working at the airport and has recently bought a car.  The children’s favorite subjects are science, math, and language arts.  They all dream of being doctors, the oldest wants to be an OBGYN, the second oldest wants to be a dentist, and the second youngest wants to be a general family doctor.  The parents are happy to be in America where they can have a safe life and their children can have a bright future.  They dream of buying a house, a second car, and the mother would like to finish college and become a nurse.

Our second family is also from Syria, consisting of a father, mother, their 3 adult sons, 1 adult daughter, son in law and their 4 grandsons.  The daughter is also pregnant.  The father and son in law worked as carpenters in Syria.  The mother and father, and their 3 sons left Syria in 2012, the daughter, son in law and their children left in 2013.  They all stayed in Turkey.  The son was able to work in Turkey as a carpenter, the older sons worked as a cleaner and did odd jobs.  The younger children were all able to attend school in Turkey.  The mother, father and 3 sons were approved to come to the US in May 2016, the daughter son in law and their children were approved to come to the US in Nov 2016.  Both the father and son in law have found work in a hotel.  The two eldest sons have some mental disabilities so they have applied and are awaiting SSDI approval.  The younger children are all enrolled in school and enjoying it.  The adults all dream of a bright future, owning a home, buying a car, and having the younger children grow up to become doctors!

Our third family is also from Syria consisting of a father, mother, and their 2 children.  The father worked as a construction worker.  They fled Syria in 2013, first went to a camp where they stayed for less than 2 weeks before being able to live in the city.  The children were able to attend school in Jordan, but the adults were not allowed to work.  They were approved to come to the US 9 months ago.  The father has found work at the airport as a rental car driver.  The oldest child attended school very soon after arriving in the US, but the younger son has physical and mental disabilities and recently was able to start attending school one month ago after his special needs were figured out.  The older son already speaks good English, says he has lots of friends at school and his favorite subject is art.  He wants to be a pediatrician when he grows up to help children like his brother.  The parents are happy to be here, and live in safety.  They hope to become successful, move to a nicer house, and are grateful for their son being able to receive medical treatment.

Our fourth family is from Syria consisting of a father, mother, and their 5 children.  The father worked as a plumber and the mother was a homemaker.  They left Syria in 2013 and fled to Jordan carrying their 4 children that were all under 5 years old.  They were able to stay in the city in Jordan, but were not able to work. The children were able to attend school.  The youngest child was born in Jordan.  They were approved to come to the US 8 months ago.  They have had a rough start as the father suffers many health conditions and the children are still traumatized from what they witnessed back in Syria.  The children have been attending school.  The family is hopeful that they will have a bright future in America and that their children will be able to study in college and they will someday buy a house.


Deliveries: March 25, 2017

Our first family is from Cuba consisting of a father, mother and their 2 young children.  The husband was an economist in Cuba and the wife worked in shipping.  Despite their solid occupations, money and supplies were in short supply.  They left Cuba for the freedoms and economic opportunity that the U.S. offers for them and to secure a better future for their children.  The family made their way to Ecuador and then through Mexico before seeking asylum at the U.S. border.  The journey lasted weeks, parts of it on foot.  They arrived in the US in late December 2016.  They miss their families in Cuba but are appreciative of the help they have already received in our country.  The couple are hard at work at their new jobs and continue to improve their English skills so as to gain better employment.

Our second family is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including a father, mother, and their 3 young children.  The mother and father both left DRC as young children nearly 20 years ago and went to a refugee camp in Uganda, where they grew up and met each other.  All three children were born in the refugee camp.  The husband learned farming as a child in DRC.  The wife is a talented seamstress and was able to work and help the family in camp.  They were brought to the US almost 5 months ago.  The family feels very fortunate to be in our country and are feeling at home.  The wife has extended family nearby and the children have been reunited with their young cousins.  While the children are in school, the husband and wife are actively seeking employment through their resettlement agency.

Deliveries: March 18th

We will have both a morning and afternoon delivery this weekend, for a total of 5 families.

Delivery #1:

Our first family is a man from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  He arrived in the US a few months ago and is currently partaking in a job training program through his resettlement agency.  He speaks English fairly well and is happy to be here.  More details to follow soon.


Our second family consists of father, mother and their 2 daughters.  The mother’s parents were born in Afghanistan and immigrated to Iran where she was born.  She later married a man who was born in Afghanistan and immigrated to Iran with his parents.  The daughters were born in Iran.  Because the family had Afghani roots, they were treated similar to slaves and had no rights. The father worked for 30 years in whatever jobs he could get (construction, selling shoes) but had to work similar to our system of undocumented immigrants.  They were also unable to access healthcare because the Iranian government refused to let doctors treat them, and the father suffers heart disease. In order for them to have received any education for their daughters, they had to pay large sums of money to the government because of their Afghani heritage.  They fled Iran to Turkey initially by car but when they got to the mountains they had to hire a horse as no cars could travel this route over the desert terrain and mountains.  When they made it to Turkey, the went to the UN to declare refugee status.  They were able to stay in Turkey and receive good medical treatment and assistance from the Turkish government and UNHCR.  They stayed in Turkey for a little over a year.  The whole family is so happy to be here and so grateful to have the opportunity to get good healthcare and education for the family.  The 15 year old daughter composes rap songs and tells stories of her life in Iran and journey to America.  The 10 year old loves to roller skate and is excited to go to school.  The father believes the US has saved his life.

Our third family is from Cuba, consisting of a husband and wife who are expecting their first child.  They had both studied at a university in Cuba, but felt there were no freedoms or opportunities for them.  They left Cuba and went to Ecuador, and later Columbia, back to Ecuador, then made their way to Panama.  From there they traveled some of the way by foot, through jungle, across rivers, by bus, whatever means they could find to get to the border of Texas.  Once they reached Texas 10 months ago they were granted asylum status.  They decided to go to Phoenix where they have a friend and he let them stay with him.  One month ago they moved into their own apartment. The husband is trained to work in a dental laboratory, and has been able to find work doing that here!  Gisela is due with their first child very soon so she plans to stay home and care for child, and later find work. They are so happy to be in the United States where they have the opportunity that they didn’t have in Cuba.

Delivery #2:

Our first family is from Afghanistan, consisting of a father, mother, their 2 adult sons, one daughter in law, and a toddler grandson.  They fled Afghanistan 9 years ago and went to Turkey, where they registered with the UN.  The father is a butcher and was able to work in his occupation in Turkey.  The younger son finished high school in Turkey and then worked a variety of jobs while his brother worked as a tailor.  As refugees in Turkey, they were not able to earn enough money for the family.  Once approved for resettlement by UNHCR, they were originally resettled in Portland Oregon but decided to move to Arizona in March because of the mother’s health problems.  They also have another son/brother who is married with two children who is currently living in Turkey.  The youngest son speaks English very well and wants to attend college to study engineering.  The older brother hopes to also study in college, but his current focus is on finding work to support his family.

Our second family is also from Afghanistan and consists of a husband, wife and their toddler son, the wife is also pregnant.  The husband worked for the US Military in Afghanistan and thus his life was threatened.  The husband’s brother also worked for the US Military and was resettled to Texas over a year ago.  When the married brother and his family were approved as SIVs, the brother left Texas to help them settle in Arizona.  They all now live together.  The single brother was lawyer in Afghanistan, the married brother has a business degree, and the wife has a mathematics degree. They would all like to transfer their credentials to America and work in their respective fields, but are currently willing to take any job to support the family.  They are very grateful to be in America.

Deliveries: March 11, 2017

Our first visit is a young man form Afghanistan. He fled Afghanistan with his family when he was only 7 years old. He and his family lived in Pakistan, until they were attacked when he was 15. He then went, by himself, to Indonesia where he applied for asylum; he left his parents and 3 younger brothers behind. After 3 years of vetting, he was accepted for resettlement in the USA and arrived a little over 2 weeks ago.  He taught himself English, despite never having been allowed to attend school either in Afghanistan or Pakistan. He is determined to make his life better, to work hard, and hopes one day to be reunited with this family here.

Our second family is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The mother fled DRC  with her family when she was only 2 years old. She lived in a refugee camp in Uganda for 20 years, where she met her husband who had also fled DRC with his own family.  They had thier first child in the camp.  The family arrived in Phoenix in July, and 2 months later had another baby. The mother stays at home with the children and the father has secured work at the airport. They are grateful to be in America and are looking forward to a safe life with their children.

Our third family is also from DRC. The mother fled DRC in 2002 with her 7 children. They lived in a refugee camp in Uganda for 15 years.  While in the camp, 2 more children were born.  This family of 11 arrived in 3 different phases. The 2 oldest adult boys in their mid 20s came first in August 2016. They were followed by their mom and 6 more siblings (3 young adults, 2 teenagers, and one preteen) in December 2016. The oldest sister (late 20s) was the final member to arrive in February 2017. The mom and 3 of the older children have begun working. The 3 youngest children are happily in school for the first time in their lives. This family is very excited to be all together again in a safe place they can call home.  They are grateful for their safety and the ability for the children/younger siblings to obtain an education.

Deliveries: March 4, 2017

Our first family is from Cuba, consisting of a husband and wife.  The husband was a computer engineer and the wife was a doctor.  They were sent to Venezuela through the Cuban Medical Program, a program through the Cuban government that forces medical professionals to work in other countries that trade with Cuba.  The medical professionals are treated as a commodity by the Cuban government to receive oil and minerals from other countries, and they often live and work in deplorable conditions in whatever country they are forced to go to.   They left Venezuela and went to Colombia before coming to the US less than a month ago.  They are attempting to transfer their credentials to the US so that they can work in their respective fields again, but are willing to take any job in the meantime, and are searching for work with the assistance of their resettlement agency.  They are very happy to be in America and the opportunity and quality of life they are now able to build for themselves.

Our second family is from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), consisting of a husband, wife, and their four sons ranging in age from preteen to infant.

Our third family is also from DRC, consisting of a mother and her 2 children, and their grandmother.

Deliveries: Feb 25, 2017


Our first family is from Somalia, consisting of 13 people.  The father and mother have 9 children, as well as a nephew and grandson living with them.  They fled Somalia 26 years ago when the parents were newlyweds.  They had to leave their house so quickly that they didn’t even bother to put on shoes.  They walked for a week until they reached Ethiopia.  They have family that fled the same time, but they were separated while walking, and believe they ended up in Yemen and Kenya, but aren’t sure and have not had contact with them since they fled.  They stayed in the refugee camp in Ethiopia and built their family, all 9 children were born in the camp.  The eldest daughter had a son in the camp as well.  The eldest daughter also worked for the IRC in the camp as a social worker for other women.  They arrived to Phoenix in December.  They have met some neighbors who have been very helpful in to transition and made it much smoother.  They have some cousins in Minnesota, and are considering moving there, but testing out Phoenix and trying to connect with the Somalian community here.  The father was told by his case manager shortly after they arrived that he wouldn’t know a true American welcome until WTAP, and after the Home Visit volunteers were leaving he said through his interpreter “My case worker was right!  Thank you thank you!”

syrian flag

Our second family is from Syria, consisting of a father, mother and their two young children.  The father worked as an electrician and the mother was a homemaker.  The father said they had a very good life in Syria, but the war destroyed everything and death was everywhere.  They fled to Turkey 3.5 years ago, and the father was able to work as an electrician again, and they had their second son.  They were able to rest and start to build a new life in Turkey, however their eldest son has a rare blood disorder, and they were not able to get him the medical care he needs, so they decided to apply for resettlement so that they could be safe but also have adequate medical care for their son.  They arrived in Phoenix almost 3 months ago.  The mother is focused on setting up their son’s medical care, while the father is currently participating in the IRC “Job Club” and hopes to find work soon.  They are very grateful to be in America and have high hopes for their childrens’ futures.