This Week’s Families

Family Bios: December 1, 2018 (afternoon)

We will visit a family of 10 from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The father, pregnant mother and oldest child left their village in 2003 because homes were being robbed and people killed in her village. They headed to Burundi where they were processed through 3 different camps before being resettled to Arizona in August of 2018. They have eight daughters ages 1 to 17. The six oldest are in school and enjoying it.  The mother has a sister resettled in Texas and they found friends from the camp living in their AZ apartment complex.  Their house in their village is what they miss the most.  It was fully paid off. Here they have to pay rent monthly but they can live in safety.


We will also visit a father who arrived to the US before the rest of his family. He lives in a one bedroom apartment with a roommate.  His country of origin is Eritrea where he experienced extreme persecution. He arrived to Arizona in September of 2018.  He has six children back in Eritrea ages 4-14 living with his ailing mother.  He hopes to be able to reunite with them soon.



And we will visit a single male in his fifties from Somalia.

Family Bios: December 1, 2018 (morning)

We will meet a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The mother fled with one of her children in 2005. She remained internally displaced in the DRC before meeting up with her other children (now ages 26, 22, 21, 18). Then they fled again together to Rwanda. They were in Rwanda for over a decade waiting for asylum.  The family arrived in Phoenix in August. The mother said the heat did not bother them, as it is similar to what they experienced in camp in Rwanda. When they family came, one son, a twin, got held back due to a paperwork problem. The mother misses her son terribly, as does his twin brother. They are all hoping he follows them soon.  Two of the sons are working to support the family. The mother uses a wheelchair and so is confined to their home. One of the mother’s adult daughters has a little girl (3) who is full of fun and wonder; she can’t wait to get some paper and crayons of her own and was practicing her drawing on our volunteers’ notepads.


We will meet another family from the DRC. The mother (41) is here with her 5 children (ages 2, 8, 10, 13, 14). The mother’s sister lives with the family as well.  Sadly, the father of the family has been detained in Rwanda, where the family fled to in 1996. They said his paperwork is processing and they hope he will join them soon.  The family arrived in Phoenix in August. Besides the father who is waiting to come from Rwanda, this family also has relatives in Canada. The older children are all in school and doing well, and the mother’s sister watches the youngest child while mom works at Papa Johns. The sister is anxious to learn English.   


A third family from the DRC rounds out this weekend’s visits.  The father fled the DRC in 1997 when he was a young man. He met his wife, who also fled the DRC, in a refugee camp in Tanzania. They married and had their 5 children while awaiting asylum, all of whom wre born in camp.  The mother and father fled their homeland while they were in school; they were never able to finish. Their children, though, did attend school in the refugee camp. The older children (ages 16, 13 and 10) are in school and happy; the younger children (ages 4 and 1) are at home with mom and really enjoyed the volunteer visitors.  The father’s grandmother loves here in Phoenix. Mom has a sister in Kentucky. The family is happy to be here altogether and safe.

Family Bios: November 17, 2018 (morning)




We will meet three families from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

One family includes of mom, 2 sons (age 16 & 18) and 1 daughter (age 22).  They arrived in AZ in June of 2018 but  over to Idaho, then moved to Pittsburgh and now Phoenix.  They are happy to be where it is warmer and no snow!  The mother left her village in 1998 due to war and many killings in her area.  She fled to many different places in the Congo until she finally made it to Burundi and had been in a refugee camp since 2002.  The youngest son was born in the camp.  When mom lived in the Congo and in the refugee camp she worked as a teacher for International Rescue Committee and spoke to women and children about domestic violence.  Mom has a heart condition now that makes it difficult to work.   The children attend school and are hoping to get a job very soon.   

We will also be visiting a family of 4 (soon to be 6) from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This family consists of a father, mother, son (age 3), and daughter (age 2). They recently found out that the mother is pregnant with twins, and they are expected to be born in May of 2019. This family arrived in Phoenix on June 12th of this year. The father left the DRC to Kenya, where he lived in a refugee camp for 8 years. The mother also left the DRC to Kenya, where she lived in a refugee camp for 9 years. They met each other in Kenya, and both of their children were born in the camp. In Kenya, the father owned a small business within the camp. Currently, the father is employed at Papa John’s here in Phoenix. The mother also found a job, and is working at a hotel. Although the two young kids are not in school yet, their parents hope that they become successful though their education in America, and hope for the whole family to learn English. They are also excited, and trying to prepare for the twins in the upcoming year.

And we will visit a third family from DRC that includes four children ages 1 through 7. 

Family Bios: November 17, 2018 (afternoon)

We will visit a woman from Cuba who arrived to the US via a detainment facility in Laredo, Tx.  She is 22 years old when she decided it was time to leave Cuba.  The government refused to allow her family to open a restaurant and they also were requiring her to join the military which she did not want to do.  The government put her under surveillance and our client no longer felt safe.  She secured the ability to travel to Mexico and flew to Mexico City and then onto Laredo where she was then apprehended by customs.  She asked for asylum but was detained for 45 days in a detention facility there.  She was eventually allowed into the US and transported to Phoenix.  She describes this as a very scary experience when she was in the detention facility.  Our client wants to get a job as soon as possible and then wants to learn to be a hair stylist.  She is working on learning English.  She has family that would like to join her but they do not know if this will be possible.  Her father has tried several times to leave and has been detained each time.  She is very relieved to be here in the US.

We will also visit family from the Democratic Republic of Congo who spent many years in refugee camp in Kenya.  




And we will meet a large Rohingya family who fled Burma many years ago for safety in Malaysia.  

Family Bios: November 10, 2018

We will visit three young refugees who arrived here as “unaccompanied minors” from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.  All three of the young men are doing quite well and have recently moved from foster homes to their very first apartments.  For unaccompanied minors, the journey is often treacherous and long.  They are all fortunate to be safe in the US and have made the very most of their schooling.  We will learn more about them when we visit on Saturday.


We will also visit a couple from Iraq and their three children.  They arrived in 2017.  We will learn more about them when we visit on Saturday.


Family Bios: November 3, 2018 (afternoon)


We will be meeting a family of 5 from Bagdad, Iraq. The husband, wife, and their three sons arrived in Phoenix in September of this year. This family came directly to Phoenix from Iraq, without fleeing to different countries first. They fled I raq because of the instability and danger, and the parents wanted a better life for their children. The sons are ages 14, 13, and 7 years old. All three of the children have started school, and are loving it. Because each son is either in elementary, middle school, or high school, they all go to different campuses. Their parents hope that their children attend a university someday, and get a good education. The children and parents do not speak English very well, but they are trying to learn. The father is working on getting his driver’s license so he can secure a better job. Back home in Iraq, the father obtained a bachelor’s degree in design. He also was a businessman, owned a restaurant and market, and was a taxi driver. The mother is an Arabic teacher. They are happy to be in America, and have some friends here in Phoenix.


We will also be visiting a family of 10 from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This family consists of a father, mother, 4 daughters (ages 14, 10, 7, and 3), and 4sons (ages 14, 12, 10, and 1). They just arrived to Phoenix on October 2018, so the kids are not yet enrolled in school and the parents have not yet found work. The5 oldest kids were born in Congo, where their father unfortunately passed away.  After fleeing to a camp in Uganda, the mother met her now husband and had her other 3 children in camp. They lived there for 10 years before coming to the United States. In Uganda, the mother worked as a cleaner and babysitter. The father worked as a part of a hospital’s registry staff. All of the children, except the 2youngest, attended school in their camp in Uganda where they learned some English. They are glad that they are here and safe, and look forward to starting their new lives in Phoenix.


Another family we will be visiting is from Eritrea. This family consists of a father, mother, and two little girls ages 3 and 1. They arrived in October of this year, and speak little English. The wife’s brother and sister both live close by in Phoenix. Before they knew each other, the mother and father separately fled Eritrea to a refugee camp in Ethiopia because they feared the government and had little freedom. The lived in camp for 10 years, where the husband and wife met each other and had both of their daughters. Back home in Eritrea, the father was a farmer, and owned a restaurant when living in the camp in Ethiopia. Both of the parents hope to find work soon, as well as attend school to learn English. They are happy to be in the United States where they can raise their daughters and have more freedom.

Family Bios: November 3, 2018 (morning)

We will visit a family who were originally from Eritrea but fled their country because of war and the lack of educational opportunities for their children.  They lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia until June 2018 when they immigrated to Arizona. The father, age 38, was a shop owner in his native land but he was unable to work in the camp. The mother, age 33, had just given birth a week ago to their fourth child, a boy.  The family has two older boys, ages 16 and 13, and a girl, age 15.  They were able to attend school while in the refugee camp and really enjoy learning.   The children are excited about their educational opportunities in Arizona and are motivated to pursue higher learning.  Their daughter talks about wanting to become a doctor.  The family is very happy to be in the United States, and the father has found work in a laundry.  The parents’ dream is for all of their children to finish college and find good jobs.

We will also visit a multi-generational family who had fled the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1999 because of war and were in a refugee camp in Tanzania for many years.  The arrived in the United States in August 2018. The grandmother is age 62.  He daughter arrived in camp as a child and now has four children (two daughters, ages 14 and 4, and two sons, ages 12 and 1).  Life in the camp was very difficult, and there was no work for the family.  The grandmother had been a farmer in her native land.  She has ongoing medical problems with her hearing and sight, and she is very grateful for the medical care she has received since arriving in the United States.  The children were able to attend school in the refugee camp.  Their mother never had the opportunity for any education but hopes that she can attend school in the future.  She is currently focused on finding employment to support her family.  Her dream is for all of her children to be able to go to university and to improve her economic status and she wants to work to help them pursue their goals.  The mother’s brother is currently living in the Phoenix area and is a support to the family.

And we will visit a multi-generational family who was originally from the DRC but fled the country  in 1995 because of the war and lived in a refugee camp in Burundi until they came to Arizona in May 2018.   Grandma is 76.  Her daughter 38 and was able to attend school in camp and finished the 8th grade.  She has two daughters, ages 11 and 18, who were born in the camp and attended school there.  Her younger daughter is doing well in school and enjoys learning.  Her older daughter will begin a special school program next week as she was not eligible for regular high school because of her age.  The mother is currently working a second shift in a meat plant and enjoys her job.  She describes life as “very good in America,” and she is focused on working and improving the lives of her family members.

Family Bios: October 27, 2018

We will meet a  family from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mother was 11 years old when she fled. She left her home, with her father and her siblings, after her mother was killed in the violence plaguing their country. She arrived in Uganda, where she spent the next 15 years. While in Uganda, she met and married her husband and they had 4 daughters, now ages 8, 5, 3 and 1. Sadly, her father passed away while awaiting asylum in Uganda. The family has been in Phoenix for 5 months. The older children are enrolled in school and really enjoy it. The husband has secured work, and the mother is at home with the younger children and watches her neighbors’ children as well.  The mother said that the family is happy for the safety they have found here. She said, “It is good sleeping with no fear.”


We will also visit a family from Myanmar (formerly Burma). The father is Rohingya. As a member of this minority Muslim ethnic group, he and his family had no civil rights: they could not vote, work or go to school. There was no water where they lived an often they did not have enough food.  After their first child was born, the father fled, first to Thailand and eventually to Malaysia. When he had safely arrived, his wife and 1-year old daughter joined him. The family was in Malaysia for 11 years awaiting asylum. In that time, the dad worked part time as a handy man. When work was good, and they had the funds to pay the fees, their children could attend school. Many times, the children could not go to school.

The family has been in Phoenix for 3 months. While they do not have any family here with them, they do have very good friends, a Rohingya family whom they met in Malaysia, as neighbors. The father was very excited to share with us that he and his friend actually work at the same place here in Phoenix. Their 4 daughters are in school full time, and doing well. Their youngest, a boy, is home with mom.  When asked how she felt about Phoenix, the mother said she knows this new beginning will be hard. “Everything is so different from Malaysia,” she said. She said she knows they are starting from scratch here, and will have to work hard and try hard. She and her husband are willing to put in all the hard work to make America their new home.

Family Bios: October 20, 2018

We will visit a young man from the Roshni province of Afghanistan who arrived in the US 9/11/18.  He is just 18 years old and fled his country at the encouragement of his parents due to death threats on him from the Taliban.  He is unsure why he was targeted.  His parents wanted him kept safe so they gave him some money they had saved up and he fled to India first and then onto Sri Lanka where he asked for asylum.  He traveled to the US once all documents were in order.  He wants to be able to help his parents with money and so he is very interested in getting a job first and then pursuing an education after he is more financially stable.  Our client has no siblings and is hoping his parents can join him in the US at some point.  He is looking forward to learning English and making new friends in America.


We will also visit a husband, wife and the niece and nephew of the couple.  They fled the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011 due to increasing danger to their village from decades of war.  They had many family members killed and they fled for their lives to Malawi where they stayed at a refugee camp.  They married 1 year ago in the camp.  Prior to leaving their village the husband’s job was running a market where he sold beer and wine.  His wife was a student.  When they fled their village the niece and nephew were just 7 and 11 respectively.  They learned they have some family in north Phoenix but have not had a chance to meet their yet.  They are trying to get jobs and learning English.


And we will also visit a young man who arrived from Mexico on his own as a minor and after foster care,  is about to move into his very first apartment.  We will learn more about him when we visit.