At the first apartment, we were greeted by the sunny smiles of a mother (age 69), daughter (age 25), and grandson (about 18 months). This family is from Burma. When the mother was pregnant, her husband was killed by a Burmese soldier. She had twin daughters, but was unable to care for both so she gave one away. Even then, she found it very difficult to be a single mother. When the daughter was 8 years old, they decided to go to Thailand. They spent some time in the refugee camp. The daughter also spent some time out of the camp, where she met her husband. Her husband was very physically abusive, especially after she became pregnant. The mother had her daughter leave her husband and live with her in the camp, fearing for her life. They have been in Phoenix since October.
Our second family is also from Burma. There is a father (51), mother (39), a son (14), and a daughter (12). They began by telling us how hard it was to live in America, because they didn’t know the language. Things such as understanding the mail they received or filling out an application for food stamps is difficult. When the war started in Burma, they had to leave their village. They lived in the jungle alone with no friends or family members. It was hot, rainy, and they had no medicine. When they began living in the jungle, they had 6 children. Because life in the jungle was so hard, three of the six died. They travel to Thailand to the refugee camp and spent the next 10 years there. Their oldest child got married in the camp and has 2 children. They arrived in Phoenix in November.
For our third family, we had a delightful interpreter and her son with us. Both families live in this complex. The family we were visiting is from Iraq. There is a father (37), mother (25), and son (6 months old). Both the husband’s and wife’s families were threatened in Iraq. The father had spent the last 4 years in Syria and the mother the last 3 years. They met in Syria and were married there. The husband’s mother and father have lived in Phoenix for 5 years and help them when they can. They arrived here in November.