The family we will visit is from Burma, or as they prefer to call it, Myanmar. This family consists of a mother, father, 3 daughters age 8, 10, and 16, and one son, age 19. The mother is originally from Thailand, and the father is from Myanmar. In 1988, the father and some of his family fled Myanmar to escape religious persecution and military rule and fled to Malaysia under UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) protection. They are part of the ethnic group known as Rohingya, which has been living in Myanmar for generations, but have not been recognized or accepted for their culture and religious practices. Religious and ethnic tensions between the Rohingya Muslims and the Rakhine Buddhists, who make up the majority of the population, has caused wide-spread persecution and violence against the Rohingya for many years. There has been little done to protect these people, and thus, they have been forced to escape their homeland and seek community and refuge in other parts of SE Asia. The father and mother met in Malaysia and married in 1992. In the late 1990’s, they tried to go back to Mayanmar, but discovered the persecution and violence was just as bad if not worse and they fled again to Malaysia. The father worked in construction in Malaysia and the mother stayed at home with the children. They are very happy to be in the US and know they are safe now. The father is unable to work due to health issues and the mother stays at home with the children. The 19 year old son is working to help support the family. They are slowly learning English, and the younger children are happy to be in school.
The family we will visit is from Myanmar. The family consists of a mother and father along with 4 sons ages 1, 3, 9 and 12. When the father was a young child, he and his family fled Myanmar to escape religious persecution and military rule and fled to Malaysia. The father and mother met in Malaysia in 2000 and married in 2002. The father worked in construction, putting up power lines. It took them 1 year to apply for acceptance to the US and they arrived in early February. The father is trying to get work: the mother will stay home with the children. The children are very excited to start school but there has been some challenges with social security numbers that has delayed their start. They are starting to learn English. Their primary reason for leaving Malaysia was to provide a good education for their children.
Another family we will visit is from Iraq, and they arrived in the US in early December 2015. They have 2 daughters ages 1 and 3. The father worked for the US Army and a US contractor as a laundry person and before that drove a taxi. Once his job was finished, they were given assistance to leave Iraq and come to the US due to very unsafe conditions. They still have family back in Iraq, but they will not come to the US due to not being able to leave their spouses and families. The father just got a job in a hotel in Phoenix, and the mother is trying to find a part time job in the mornings when her daughters will be at school or daycare. The thing they like best about the US is feeling safe and having so much help from so many people.