This Week’s Families

Family Bios: June 15,

We will greet a family from both Iraq & Syria.  The dad fled Iraq with his 9-year-old daughter and 6 year-old son. They settled in Jordan for 3 1/2 years, but because he was not Jordanian, it was difficult to find work.  He met his new wife there, who fled from Syria, and together they were able to be granted asylum in the United Stages, first living in Nebraska for 4 years.  Their son, now 4 years-old, was born there.  They sold most of their possessions they had acquired in Nebraska to move to Phoenix, to a warmer climate more like home.  They have now lived in Phoenix for about 3 months. The mom is now pregnant with another baby, due in October.  The now 15-year-old daughter has learned English well, first being enrolled at the YMCA in Nebraska to learn.  She will be entering high school in the fall, and dreams to be a surgeon someday. Her father is working in a meat packing plant, and her mother works in the stockroom at Walmart.  Mom wants her children to be educated here and take advantage of all the opportunities available here in America.


We will also greet a single woman who after witnessing the killing of her father, escaped the Democratic Republic of Congo with her mother, 5 sisters and 2 brothers in 2004 and landed in Uganda.  She lived there with her family for 15 years, working as a manager at a casino.  In 2012, they all began the process of seeking asylum in the United States.  Only this 32-year-old woman was granted asylum.  The rest of her family continues to pursue joining her in America.  She has only been here 2 months, has completed the training as a caregiver, and is hoping to find a job very soon.  She would like to continue her education at some point.  

And we will meet a single mother with 8 children who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo many years ago and has been in refugee camp in Tanzania. Most of her children were born in camp. The family arrived to Phoenix only a few weeks ago. The children look forward to the start of school.

Family Bios: June 8, 2019

We’ll visit roommates from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They arrived 2 months ago from a refugee camp in Rwanda. The group includes a mom and her 15 year-old daughter who live with another mom with two kids, ages 7 (girl) and 2 (boy). The children have lived their entire lives in a refugee camp. The oldest, age 15, likes math and wants to be an accountant  

We’ll then visit a woman from Iran and her 2 children who arrived from Turkey a few weeks ago. She spent much of her life persecuted for her faith, feeling threatened at all times. She fled to Turkey and eventually was granted asylum to the United States. Her daughter, age 22, is studying to be a dental assistant. Her 19 year-old son is taking classes.

We’ll also visit a set of roommates, a woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the other woman from Afghanistan. The DRC woman lived in a refugee camp for almost all of her life, having fled war in her home country. Her roommate knows war too and escaped Afghanistan to Turkey, where she lived for several years before settling here. They have both been here only a few weeks.  Their challenge is unique in that they are roommates who do not yet share a common language.

And we’ll visit life long friends who escaped persecution in Eritrea by fleeing to Ethiopia. They were teenagers when they ran to safety and now are 22 and 24. Their apartment was completely empty when we visited and we look forward to furnishing their very first home.

Family Bios: June 1, 2019

We will be visiting a family of five, with mother, father, two daughters (ages 5 and 7) and a son (age 9).  The father fled his village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1996 because his life was in danger.  He finally settled in Burundi in 2003 where he lived in the community, working as a bus driver. In Burundi, he met his wife and they went on to have their three children. They arrived in Arizona on March 12, 2019, and the husband said that he “thanks God” they are here.  The two older children have started school, and like it, and a week ago the father started working in a food preparation plant.  He said that his dream is “to do something good in America.”

We will also visit a family originally from Eritrea.  The mother and father have two daughters (ages 2 and 10), and two sons (ages 6 and 13).  They left the country 8 years ago because of problems with the political party in power.  They had imprisoned the wife’s brother who later died in custody.  The family fled to Ethiopia where they lived in a refugee camp for eight years.  The camp provided security for the family but food and clothing rations were very limited.  Both parents graduated from teaching colleges in Eritrea and taught in the school system in the camp.  They arrived in Arizona on April 3, 2019, and feel “very fortunate” to be in this country.  They are looking forward to finding work and being able to change the family’s life.  The husband’s dream is to become a truck driver and his wife hopes to further her education and continue to work with children. The children love soccer and are looking forward to attending school next term.

We will also welcome an extended family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The father and mother have four adult children – three sons (ages 23, 27, and 28) and a daughter (age 32) who also has two children, a daughter (age 2) and a son (age 7).  They fled the DRC because of war in 2001 and settled in Burundi where they lived within the community with families who helped them.  The family arrived together in Arizona on March 6, 2019, and are very happy to be settled here.  They occupy two apartments adjacent to each other with the parents and their daughter and grandchildren in one apartment, and the three adult sons in the other apartment.  They look forward to the opportunities for education and employment in their new country.

Family Bios: May 18, 2019

We’ll visit a young woman from Democratic of Republic of Congo, who lived in foster care shortly after arrival. She arrived about two years ago, having lived in refugee camps most of her life. We’ll help her to settle into her first-ever apartment.

We will also meet two families from Syria. One family had to flee suddenly during civil war and traveled on foot to Jordan. They remained in refugee camps for two years. The couple has six kids ranging in age from 5 months to 20 years old. All are very happy to be in the US.

The second Syrian family is a family of four. They fled Syria for Lebanon in 2012 and eventually found safety in a refugee camp in Jordan. They are very happy to be in the US where the kids (ages 11 and 16) can learn in school and parents can work.

Family Bios: May 11, 2019

We’ll greet a family of three from Syria, who have been in the US for a little over a month. Dad requires a wheel chair.  Mom likes baking and taking care of her family. Their 5-year old daughter enjoyed our visit.  She loves meeting new people and is excited to make new friends at school. She spoke often of how much she misses her grandparents, who are not in the US.

We will also be visiting a family from Burma (Myanmar).   The husband is 23 years-old and was born in a Bangladesh refugee camp and moved to Malaysia at age 19 to another refugee camp. From Malaysia, he was processed to come to San Antonio, Texas in September 2018, where he lived until last month.  He has not known life outside of a refugee camp until coming to the US last year. He met his wife in Texas and they moved to Phoenix, where they were married.  His family left Burma long before he was born to move to the refugee camp in Bangladesh to escape the violence of the military/government toward the Rohingya people.  Both husband and wife are working in house cleaning and their son attends school and has learned English very well.  Both husband and wife are attending English classes, and are able to  speak some English.

Then we will be visiting a family of five originally from Burma, but who fled to Malaysia. Mom speaks English very well, which she learned when she was enrolled in school.  She also discovered an interest in computer sciences while in school. Her husband recently started working in the food industry.  They are excited to be in the US and for their children to have access to greater opportunities.  We were lucky to see them at a recent WAVE (Clothing Closet) and they have quickly bonded with WTAP and our volunteers.

And we will also visit a family of six from Burma.  The family are Karen, the majority of whom have settled on the Thailand–Myanmar border. Essentially, the Karen are people without a country who can live their entire lives in refugee camp.  The parents, grandfather and three children live together and have been in the US for two months.  The brothers are ages 9, 15 and 18, and are all attending school, and enjoy playing sports in their free time. The father is recently employed, and the mother enjoys cooking their native dishes.

Family Bios: May 4, 2019

We will visit 3 families from the Democratic Republic of Congo this weekend. Violence in the DRC goes back to the genocide in Rwanda, a neighboring country, beginning in 1994. Millions of people are estimated to have been killed in the violence, that continues in some forms to this day. According to data for the UN, more than 2.1 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2017 alone — equivalent to an average of 50 families fleeing every hour, every day.

One family fled the DRC when the mom was about 10 years old. Her family lived in a camp in Tanzania for 19 years. During that time, she lost 2 brothers and her mother.  The mother, her father, her 2 brothers and her 5 children arrived in Phoenix in October 2016.  Sadly, just one year later, the mother’s father passed away.  All the adults have been able to find work and the children are all doing well in school. The older girls speak very good English and the youngest boy will be starting kindergarten next year.

Another family we will visit also fled the DRC but sought safety in Rwanda. The mother fled the DRC when she was about 7, leaving with her sister, who was 30, and her sister’s husband. They lived in camp in Rwanda for 20 years.  The mother arrived in Phoenix with her 4 boys in March 2019. The older children have all started school and are already learning English. The youngest stays at home with his mother.  Our client’s sister, with whom she originally fled the DRC, has been resettled in Norway. Although she is very far away, our client is able to talk to her sister by phone.

A third family we will visit is also from DRC and also fled to Tanzania. The mother fled DRC with her children in 1998. Her children grew and had families of their own before they were granted asylum. The mother, her daughter and her 2 grandchildren arrived in Phoenix in February 2019. One of her sons has also been resettled in Phoenix, while her other children remain in Tanzania.  They were exceptionally grateful for the visit and for the offer of support from WTAP.

Family Bios: April 27, 2019

We will visit a family originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2009 they fled their home and ended up in a refugee camp in Kenya where they stayed for nine years. The children attended school in camp and learned English.  In 2015 they received a letter from U.S. Embassy and process started for them to come to the United States.  This process took 3 years and family arrived to AZ in December 2018.  The father is 53 years old and mother is 46.  They have four sons ages 13. 14, 16 and 25 and four daughters ages 18, 20, 21 and 22.  The parents and older children are training for work and hope to be employed soon.  One of the daughters hopes to go to school to become an engineer.


We will also visit a family from Burma.  They fled Burma to Malaysia years ago and arrived to AZ in February 2019.  They do not speak English and are feeling isolated in apartment.  They don’t know much about area, don’t know how to get around or how to ask for help.  The father is 33 years old and the mother is 26.  They have two children: a daughter who is five and a son who is one.  Their goals for life are to work hard and save money to buy a house and car.


And we will visit another DRC family.  War broke out in their country, the father was killed, the mother and children escaped to Rwanda. They arrived here February 2019.  The mother is 51 years old.  She has a daughter age 13 and three son’s ages 16, 20 and 22.  She is happy to be here, feels safe and now has no problems in life, she says. The two younger children are in school and the older ones are waiting to start work.


Family Bios: April 20, 2019

We will greet an Afghani father and son, now in his 20s. When they fled the Afghan Talib regime they spent six years in Indonesia before being resettled in Arizona this January. In Indonesia, the father worked at several jobs, including driving and baking. Here, both have already found jobs, and the son is part of a work/study program that will let him resume his education. The father told us that he could only take his eldest son out of Afghanistan, so this son has had to grow up without a mother. The rest of the family remains there: his wife, two daughters, and two sons. Although the process has begun to bring the rest of the family here, it could be several more years before they will be able to join their father and brother in the US.

We will also greet an 18 year old  Rohingya man who is settling into his very first apartment home.  We will learn more about him and his  journey when we visit.

Family Bios: April 13, 2019

We will visit a family from Sudan. The mother of this family has a terribly harrowing tale of her journey to the USA. Please be aware that it is hard to hear, but she wanted us to know what she endured to find peace.

When she was 5 years old, our client lived in a tiny village in Sudan. One day, her village was set on fire. Everyone had to flee. Our client was asleep at the time, and her mother was unable to gather all her children; she left our client behind.  Our client survived when she was found by another family and fled with them. They all ran to Libya where this new family eventually adopted our client. She grew up there with them.

Libya is not a safe place for refugees; there was a tremendous amount of violence. When she was 24 years old, our client witnessed the murder of her adoptive parents, and she was assaulted. The pain of this is still with her today.

She was found by The Red Cross and transferred to a refugee camp. Her story circulated the camp and a man in camp came to meet her and asked her to marry him. They married and applied for asylum. While waiting for asylum, they had a set of twin boys and another little boy a year later.

Our client spoke of being so afraid for her children that, for 2 years, they never left their house. Her children never slept on beds. They had no toys. She cried as she recounted life in camp waiting for asylum.

Almost exactly 4 years ago, our client and her family arrived in Phoenix. Her husband is working and their older 3 children are in school; another little boy was born shortly after they arrived in the USA.

Our client was able to find her birth family; they are still in Sudan She is hoping to help them get to Egypt so she can visit them; she has already secured a passport for herself for this visit. When we asked if she liked being in Phoenix, our client responded, “ I am so grateful. I never thought we would have all this. I never thought we would be safe.”


We will also visit a family from Aleppo, Syria. The mother and father fled the civil war in 2013 with their 4 boys (now ages 15-11). They were in Turkey for 3 years before being granted asylum here. In that time, a 5th boy was born (now 3).

The family is getting used to life in the USA, despite not liking it at first. The older boys are doing well in school and the youngest will begin Headstart in the Fall. Everyone speaks English. The mother has made friends and started her own little business as a part of the Syrian Sweets program. The father works at the airport.

The families of both the mother and father remain in Turkey and they miss them. The mother said they speak to them every day. The mother was excited to share with us pictures of her family and one of her English teacher here in Phoenix. She expressed her sincere gratitude to WTAP for coming to visit and supporting their family.