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July 30, 2011

Somali FlagThis single mother from Somalia came to Arizona with her two young sons after years spent in a refugee camp. When the mother was 12 years old, both of her parents were killed by militia men. She fled with her 17 year old sister to Ethiopia and was put in a refugee camp. Her sister died shortly after arriving. She still has a living brother, but does not know where he is. She got married in the camp in 1998 and had 2 sons. When she was 3 months pregnant with her second son, her husband died. Her sons are now 12 and 6; they will begin school this fall. One is a special-needs child.

Somali FlagThese two young Somali children (nine and eight) came to Phoenix with their handsome grandmother. The grandmother was born in Somalia and explained to us that she and her mother were from different tribes. One day militia entered their house and bayoneted her brother to death. She threw herself on him and has no recollection of what happened afterwards until waking one day in the refugee camp. She has 3 children and is not sure where they are. Our interpreter was wonderful and filled us in on details about life in the refugee camp. He explained that there was very little food that was given every 15 days. The food would last the first 5 days and they would call this the 5 days of happiness. Then the next 5 days were the 5 days of talking. The final 5 days were the 5 days of silence. The two Somali women knew each other from the refugee camp and arrived within 8 days of each other.

Bhutanese FlagThis Bhutanese family of six came to Arizona after many years in a refugee camp in Nepal. Before having to flee to the camp, the father worked as an architect and hopes to get training here in western architecture so he can work in some capacity in his field. In Bhutan, he also used to play the guitar in a church. His mother has been resettled with him, his wife, and their three children, a girl 15, a boy 13, and another girl ten. One daughter has suffered from serious health issues; the family has many debts from trying to get care over time. Although she is getting medical care now, her health remains a central concern. The family has other close relatives settled nearby.

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