Our first family is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We met with the mother while her five children ages 17, 15, 14, 13, and 11 were at school. The family lived in Katanga, a region in the south of the country. War broke out in her village in the Congo and her husband was holding a baby when he was shot and killed by soldiers. After her husband died, the family went to a refugee camp in Rwanda where they lived for nine years. Living in the camp was difficult because they had no money to buy clothes or food and while the UN provided some food, it wasn’t enough for their family. The family’s plane trip to America was their first and the mother described it as a scary experience that ended up making her sick, however, the children enjoyed it. The family arrived in October and likes being in America now. The children enjoy school and are learning English very quickly. The mother enjoys cooking and used to have a small business in the DRC selling food on the street. She’s been cooking often for her family now that she’s here and is looking forward to getting more supplies for her kitchen.
The second family is from Burma and consists of a mother, father, and five children, ages 18, 15, 12, 8, and 9 months. We met with the mother, newborn and 18-year-old son. He was hoping to attend school in America, but is too old to enroll. The mother lived in a village in Burma, but the military destroyed her village. Her mother had passed away when she was very young and as her father was old when the military attacked, he was unable to run away with the rest of the village and was killed by the military. She left Burma on her own when she was only thirteen-years-old and moved to a refugee camp in Thailand. She lived there for 20 years and met her husband in the camp. Her children were all born in Thailand. While they were provided food by the UN, they weren’t allowed to find work. The family enjoys being in America now and have been here since November. They especially appreciate the freedom they have here because they were not allowed to leave the camp in Thailand.
The third family is also from Burma and we met with the father and mother and two youngest children, ages 3 and 4. There are also two older children, 7 and 9, who are in school. The parents lived in villages in Burma that were attacked by the Burmese army. They then fled with their families to a refugee camp in Thailand where they met. They married in 2000 and the children were born in Thailand. Both still have family in the camp in Thailand. They lived in the camp for about ten years. They were confined to the camp in Thailand if they were caught outside of the camp by the Thai police they would receive punishments. The family came to America in November and is enjoying it so far. The father is hoping to find a job and has been job searching since his arrival. The mother would like to find a job as well but is unable to with two of her children too young for school. The children in school are really enjoying it and their favorite subject is English.