One family we will visit is from Iraq. This family of four includes the father (25), mother (24), son (5) and daughter (1). The family arrived in Phoenix in late February from Turkey, where they lived for one year. Both parents describe the difficult life they had when they grew up in Iraq because of lack of safety and security. The father worked in a restaurant in Iraq. He and his wife grew up together in the same neighborhood. When the husband’s father was threatened the family moved with him to Turkey. The father worked in a restaurant in Turkey for one month but he was never paid. The mother’s family is still in Iraq. This young family has been through many changes and hardship. They are happy to be in a safe environment in Phoenix now. “Here, it will be better for our children as well as for us,” says the father. He hopes to learn English and to find work in a restaurant.
Another family we will visit is from Eritrea which is located in northeastern Africa. This family consists of the father (33), mother (25) and a two-year old daughter. The father speaks English very well. The mother speaks and understands some English. When they were in Eritrea the father was sponsored by an American family which allowed him to attend nursing school in Addis Abba. When they lived in Eritrea the father said that those who spoke out against injustice were picked up in roundups. The unofficial policy was ‘don’t speak,” he explains. Because of this policy the father left for Ethiopia five days after graduating from nursing school. He lived in a refugee camp. It was there that the father met his wife. During his time in the camp the father taught science and other classes. He also facilitated a group called C4C, where social issues were discussed. The father said this group also helped develop his English skills. After spending four years in the refugee camp he and his family came to the United States. They are very happy and appreciative their life in Phoenix. The weather suits them. The father is looking to use his nursing skills here. He also has great hopes for his son and family in their new community.
We will also visit another Eritrean family. This family of three which includes the mother (31), daughter (five) and husband. The husband arrived in Phoenix two and one half years ago. He had not seen his family for over three and one half years. His daughter was only 14 months old when he last saw her. The father was a carpenter in Eritrea. It was difficult to live under a dictatorship in Eritrea so the father left for Djibouti where he stayed for fifteen months. He then moved to Ethiopia and eventually came to the United States. His wife and daughter lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia during that time. The husband applied for the wife and daughter to join him in the United States. After one and one half years they were granted permission to enter the United States. The family had a happy and emotional reunion at the airport a few weeks ago which made the pain and suffering of their long separation worth it. The father is employed at the airport. He has lived in Arizona for over two years so he knows the community well. His familiarity is making the transition for his wife and child much easier. They are sad that all of their family is still in Eritrea. They express great joy about being together, and, most importantly, about their new life in the United States.