We will visit a mother, age 35, and her daughter, age 13. They are from Myanmar but fled that country in 2003 because of the abuse she suffered at the hands of the military. She and her husband went to Malaysia where her daughter was born. The husband worked in Malaysia in a car wash and she worked in a factory and in a store. The family decided to go to Australia so that their daughter could have an opportunity for an education. Only the mother and daughter went as they could not afford for the father to join them. They went by boat but were not accepted into the country and were placed in a refugee camp on the island of Nauru where they lived for five years before coming to Arizona in late September. The mother has been told that her husband died in Malaysia but she has not been able to verify this. Conditions were deplorable in the camp. The mother was told she could not work but she defied the authorities and worked as a cook in the community so that she could buy some additional food and other necessities for her daughter and herself. Her parents and siblings are still living in Myanmar, and she commented on how much she misses them. She was only able to go to attend three years of school in her country. She has since learned English while in the refugee camp where language classes were offered by Australians. She is continuing with language classes this week and is hopeful that she will also find employment soon. Her goals for the future are focused on her daughter who she hopes gets a university education and has the opportunities she never had. Her daughter also learned English in the refugee camp, and she is currently attending school and “loves it.”. Her mother is happy that she is now living in the safe environment of the United States but realizes that she has many challenges ahead.
We will also meet a pair of brothers, ages 30 and 31, who are from Democratic Republic of Congo. They were fortunate to escape death in their home country as teenagers and have spent most of their lives in refugee camp. Both brothers are fully employed here in Phoenix.