Our first family is a brother and sister (28 and 23 years old) from Bhutan. They were very young when they left Bhutan and don’t remember the journey. Education was one of the positive things that came out of living in the refugee camp in Nepal (where the rest of their family still resides). This brother and sister arrived 10 days ago and are still adjusting to their new life. They told us they were confused about many of the products they found in the grocery store.
The second family is also from Bhutan. In this family of five is a father (59), mother (61), two daughters (32 and 22), and a son (17). Next to their village in Bhutan was an Army camp. The soldiers forced the families of the village to send their daughters to the camp. They said they were to cook for them, but assaults often occurred. To save his daughters from this fate, the father moved the family in 1993. His land was seized and they sold their farm animals for little money. They walked to India and from there had a truck take them to Nepal. They arrived in the U.S. on 6/6/11.
When we visited this Burmese father and his six children, they had been in Phoenix barely a week. They were still tired, and some of the exhausted youngsters were sleeping off jet lag in the next room. But the father and the children seemed relaxed and open, smiling and ready to laugh. Their lives have not been easy. Forced to leave Burma because of harassment by both the government and opposition, they fled to Thailand. The father said he had been in one of the Thai refugee camps for 11 years; three of his six children were born in the camp. They had no money. The father and the older boys found it difficult to find work. Even though it was unsafe to leave the camp, they would, sometimes for 2 to 3 days at a time, in order to provide for the rest of the family. Today, the ages of the boys are 20, 18, 15, 8 and 5; their sister is 11. All are hoping to attend school, though the oldest boys understand they first need to find jobs. Cousins of the family were left behind in the refugee camp; they have applied to emigrate.