The first family visited came from Cuba via Mexico. The mother was a lawyer/university teacher in Cuba and the father was a hair stylist with over 24 years of experience. They have a 4 year old daughter. On the day of our visit the mother had an appointment with a doctor to determine if they would perform an immediate cesarian section for the birth of their second child.
They travelled from Cuba to Mexico five years ago having paid $15,000 for their visa. Their daughter was born a year after their arrival. The father worked as a hair stylist, giving classes and participating in styling shows. The mother took a course in makeup and gave classes and demonstrations in that field. Since they didn’t have work permits they were forced to work on a free-lance basis rather than as salaried employees. Once they had paid off the Money for their visa, they decided to come to the U.S. But she was pregnant again and they hesitated making the trip. Deciding that they did not want to wait any longer, they boarded a bus and travelled to the U.S. border, crossing into Texas. They have been in Arizona for just over one week. He hopes to be able to work as a hair stylist here in the Phoenix area, as son as he can receive certification by the State Board of Cosmetology.
The second visit was to the apartment of three Young Cuban doctors, two men and a woman, who came to Phoenix from Venezuela. The three friends met each other while studying medicine in Cuba. They graduated as General Practicioners in 2006 and one year later travelled to Venezuela with a large medical misión. They practiced together in a town near Caracas. After two years they applied for a visa at the US Embassy under the Barrio Afuera program. They arrived here on January 6. They all have parents and brothers and sisters in Cuba and the woman has a five year old daughter who she hopes to be able to bring to the US.
The third family we visited arrived one week ago from The Democratic Republic of Congo. The family consists of the mother, her six children and three members of their extended family. The family, including the father, left the Congo in 2002, during the civil war after the mother’s parents were murdered. They migrated to Tanzania and lived in refugee camps for almost eight years. Three of their six children were born in the Tanzanian camp. The father became ill while in the camp and they were unable to get medical treatment for him. He died in the camp. The UNHCR helped the family gain refugee status and travel to the U.S. The younger children will attend school once they have completed their medical exams and received all their vaccinations. The older children will be studying English and studying toward their GED.
The last family of five came from Iraq. Three children range in age from 3 ½ to 20 years. The father was an agronomist in Iraq, specializing in dairy studies. He had his own business producing cheese and yogurt. From 2004 until 2009 he worked as an interpreter with the U.S. Army. He was injured several times by IEDs and in 2007 he and his family moved on a US base. The mother had been an elementary school teacher in Iraq. They left Iraq for Jordan in 2009 and in December were able to travel to the US.
The father hopes to find work with a dairy products company here in Arizona. One of the sons recently graduated from High School hopes to study pharmacy. The younger son is still in high school, but hopes for a career in the arts, photography. We won’t be doing a delivery for this family, however they were very happy that we came to visit them.