The first family we will visit is from the DR Congo. The mother (56), her three daughters (ages 24, 16 and 13) and her son (age 20) left the Congo on foot seven years ago. After a three-day walking journey, they arrived at the border of Rwanda. From Rwanda a truck took them to a transit center. There was very little food and sparse shelter at the transit center. They were there for a month. At the end of the month, they were transported by truck to a refugee camp on the far west side (across the country) of Rwanda. They were there for almost seven years before they came to the USA in November. The mother is a stay at home mother. The children were all able to attend school in Rwanda. The oldest daughter achieved the equivalent of a high school diploma; she will be looking for work and after a year hopes to be able to enroll in college. The son was about to take his final exams for high school when the family moved. He will be pursuing his GED in hopes of attending college in a year. The younger girls are in school at nearby public schools. All the children in this family speak English, French and Kinyarwanda.
The second family we will visit if from Afghanistan. The father and mother (50) fled Afghanistan twenty-seven years ago with their oldest daughter (28) and went to Iran. In Iran, it is very difficult for refugees; they are not allowed to work and suffer discrimination. Nonetheless, the family survived and three more children were born: a son (24) and two daughters (22 and 17). When they came to the USA, the family was torn apart. The mother and three daughters arrived here in November. The brother is in transit in Malaysia. The mother is very concerned for him and does not know exactly when he will arrive. The father is still in Iran, waiting to complete his paperwork. It is a very difficult situation. All three of the daughters speak English, as well as Farsi. The youngest is in high school. The older two will be looking for work soon.
The third family we will visit is also from Afghanistan. The single mother (31) fled her country with her two daughters (ages 18 and 15) and son (17) in 2007, and went to Pakistan. Her father was originally from Pakistan, so she was familiar with this country. It is very dangerous for a single, young woman with children in Pakistan. Despite having had a job working for the Parliament in Afghanistan, the mother was forced to take any odd job and move frequently in Pakistan to maintain her safety. She was able to secure several jobs working with computers, teaching English and acting as a “Girl Friday” for local Muslim families. This, along with the financial support of friends back in Afghanistan and the savings she accrued while working at the Parliament helped her and her children to survive until they were able to come to the USA in September. The mother is not working currently. She has had some health issues, but she is hoping to begin work soon. The three children all speak English and are in high school. The mother says they have adjusted, that they like their teachers, and that she receives good reports from the school about her children’s progress.