The first family we will visit is a family of five from Bhutan. There is an elderly father, his daughter, her husband and two teenage sons in this family. They arrived less than two months ago. They had been living in a refugee camp in Nepal for quite some time—the husband was there for 20 years. In Bhutan, he had a farm and plowed the fields using oxen. He said the weather there was very hot and humid. They left Bhutan when the political pressure from both those fighting for democracy and the Bhutanese government became too much. Volunteers helped them find their way to Nepal. The family has other members who arrived in Phoenix before them. One of the wife’s brothers recently welcomed a baby girl to the family, and it was with big smiles that they told us of her arrival as the first grandchild to the elderly dad who lives with this family. The family is still getting acclimated to their new life in Phoenix. They want to learn English and find jobs. The youngest son is attending high school. The wife is hoping for a portable fan since she heard the summers in Phoenix are very warm. She was happy to learn about air conditioning and seems excited to learn more about U.S. culture and her new surroundings. The elderly father would benefit from a walker and a donation is being requested.
Volunteers will also be delivering items to another Bhutanese family who arrived in December 2011. In this family there is a wife, husband and three sons. A daughter has resettled in Georgia while additional family members live nearby in a different apartment complex. The husband was a farmer in Bhutan. They had a large home and land where he grew corn, rice and wheat to support his family. In 1992 they were told by the Bhutanese government they could no longer live in Bhutan. A truck was hired to bring their belongings to Nepal while they took a bus to the refugee camp. For the next 20 years, they lived in a small bamboo hut without electricity or plumbing. They used kerosene to light their homes with lamps and cooked on an open fire. The wife said it took a little while to get used to having electrical appliances but she now likes cooking on her stove in their apartment. Two of the sons are attending school while the husband and eldest son are looking for employment. Special requests were made for donated bicycles to help with transportation.
The third delivery will be to a young family from Cuba who had arrived less than one month ago. This couple has two boys, ages three and ten. The wife’s father is also living with them. The father was an accountant by trade while the husband worked labor jobs in gas stations and mechanic shops. The political climate in Cuba along with the poor economic situation made it very difficult for the family to take care of themselves. Oftentimes, the government would come and shut down the businesses without warning, leaving the husband and other employees without jobs to support their families. They would look for work “under the table” because the wages paid by the government was minimal. Their harrowing story began in mid-January when they decided to try for the third time to leave Cuba. The two previous attempts landed them in jail. This time, they hid near the beach for eight days while they built a raft with a group of people before setting out into the ocean. Besides their family, there were more than 20 other individuals on the raft, and they spent 18 hours at sea. The family is very happy to be here but left behind many family members. They were allowed one phone call to let them know they had made it to America. Now that they are here, the ten year old son is doing very well in school and is making friends. The adults’ priorities are to learn English as soon as possible and to find jobs. Men’s bicycles, a boy’s bike and a tricycle would help this family.