One family we will visit is from Iraq. The family consists of a father (age 50), a mother (age 51), three sons (ages 25, 22, and 19), a daughter (age 17), and a daughter-in-law (age 17). The daughter in law is married to the eldest son. The father worked US military in Iraq for six years. The family’s home in Iraq was destroyed because of the father’s affiliation with Americans. the family decided to leave Iraq because they feared for their personal safety. They have another son who is married with two children who lives in Turkey. The family hopes that he will be able to join them in the future. The family arrived in Arizona in May of 2014. Unfortunately they had to dispose of most of their bedding recently because of a bed bug infestation. Their apartment is now very sparsely furnished. The father is currently employed in a warehouse while the two sons found work as dishwashers at a casino. The other brother and sister are attending high school. The family dreams of being able to buy a home. All the siblings hope to further their education in America and to expand their job skills.
Another family we will visit is from Iraq and consists of a father (age 48) and mother (age 37). They have three sons (ages 3, 4, and 5) and two daughters (ages 8 and 11). The family has one married daughter and a divorced daughter with a young child who still live in Iraq. They are worried about their divorced daughter’s safety in Iraq, and hope that both daughters will be able to join them in Arizona soon. The family arrived in Arizona a month ago. They chose to settle here because they have a cousin who lives in the area. In Iraq, the father worked for the American Forces from 2003 to 2011. He speaks English very well. He was an interpreter for the military but later became worked with contractors on behalf of the US government. He worked as a maintenance supervisor in the military camps. He was unemployed for a couple of years after his contract ended in 2011 and then worked in the oil fields. He faced employment discrimination and threats from the militias because of his work in support of the American military mission. For years the father dreamed of bringing his family to America so that his children would have the opportunity for a good education and quality health care. The father is very pleased by the reception his children have received in the Arizona school system. He recounts an incident when a teacher bent down to tie his daughter’s shoelace. The dad feels that an Iraqi teacher would never show such kindness to a student. The father is currently looking for employment to support the family.
Another family we will visit is a Burmese family that consists of a father (age 47) and a mother (age 46). They have a son (age 17) and two daughters (ages 5 and 3). They had their own house and farm in Burma where they raised animals; however, they belonged to an ethnic sect which was persecuted by the government. The family fled their country six years ago after their lives were threatened, and their cows were confiscated by the military. They arrived in Arizona in November from Malaysia where they had been living as refugees. They left behind two daughters (ages 12 and 13), who are currently living with the father’s eldest sister. They have already filed paperwork to bring their daughters to the United States but this is a lengthy process. The two youngest daughters were born in Malaysia where the father worked menial jobs to support his family. They are happy to be in the United States, and the parents are looking forward to beginning ESL classes because neither speaks English. Their son is enrolled in high school and will begin attending classes in January. The father’s first priority is to find employment so he can support his family.