This will be a very busy weekend for the Welcome to America staff and volunteers! We will double our delivery schedule this week, bring furniture, household and personal items to six families to help turn their new houses into welcoming homes! Next week everyone will take a much deserved rest to celebrate Memorial Day.
1) One couple we will visit is from Cuba. This young couple (the husband is 27, and the wife is 24 years old) fled from Venezuela, where the husband had been assigned to work as a dentist by the Cuban government. Cuba sends their medical professionals to provide services to other Latin American countries, and the government is paid directly for these services. Cuba then provides the professional with substandard housing and food. This dentist and his wife were only allowed an addittional $20 per month to cover other expenses. They fled to the United States by taking a bus from Venezuela to Colombia, where they spent forty five days waiting their US visas. The husband was able to get a special visa under the provisions of CMPP (Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program) which allows medical professionals from Cuba to enter the United States. The wife is also a dentist, and the couple have been married for two years. The wife has begun to take English classes while the husband is employed at a furniture plant where he works the twelve hour night shift. He has just been qualified to work as a dental assistant in Arizona and he hopes to find employment in a dental office soon. His goal is to become a practicing dentist here, but he will have to improve his English skills before he can take the dental boards. The husband’s parents, three older sisters and grandmother remain in Cuba. He would love to bring his whole family to the United States eventually. The couple immigrated to the United States because there are many opportunities for them to live the “American dream”.
2) We will visit two couples who share an apartment. The husbands are brothers. Both young couples are expecting babies soon. In fact the first of the cousins will be born in October! One of the couples arrived in Arizona on February 9th, while the other couple has lived here a little longer. Both of the brothers worked for U.S. army in their country. As the US army lowers its presence in different countries in the Middle East, those who worked with them are in danger from various political factions. Both of the brothers are very interested in working and studying in the United States. The wives would like to learn English and study as well. They all realize that gaining an education will be important in their adjustment to, and success in, their new home.
3) We will also deliver household and personal items to a man from Burma (age 29). He fled Burma (also known as Myanmar) for Thailand two and a half years ago after his village was attacked by government troops and burned to the ground. The gentleman is married. His twenty-three year old wife was two months pregnant at the time of the attack on their village. They also had a young daughter who died because of insufficient food and medical care in their country. The family escaped Myanmar to Thailand by boat, where they were taken into custody by the Thai government. The Thai government separated the family and jailed the father for two years. His wife was sent to a detention center where she gave birth to a son (currently 2 years old). The wife was sold to human traffickers by corrupt government authorities. She and their son are currently living in Malaysia. The husband and wife are now in contact, and he is happy to have pictures of his wife and son. He is desperate to get them to the United States and is very worried about them because his wife has no money. He is currently working in a restaurant in Phoenix and lives with three other Burmese men in a two bedroom apartment. His only dream for his future now is to bring his family to live with him in America.
4) We will see a family consisting of a mother and her three children (ages 6, 2 and 1). They arrived in Arizona on February 11th. They were placed in an apartment with a female roommate whom they did not know. The roommate speaks some English, which will help this single mom adjust to her new home and community. They could use all of the normal household items, in addition to clothing and toys for the young children.
5) Another visit will be to a Cuban man (age 26) who left his country by himself at the young age of seventeen. He was a refugee in Europe for five years. He lived and worked in Italy and Switzerland. During that time, he returned to Cuba for six months and then went back to Italy for a year. He returned to Cubaone more time for personal reasons. He stayed in Cuba for two years and married a Guatemalan woman. They traveled to her country where he stayed for two years “working any job he could get.” He and his wife are now divorced but they have a son. The gentleman’s hope is to bring his son and the rest of his family to the United States. While he lived in Europe he worked in sales, and hopes to return to that field in Arizona. His lifelong dream was to live in America. He is attending school to improve his English. He arrived in the States at the end of February, and he is living in an apartment with two other people.
6) The last family we will visit on this busy Saturday is a family of four from Iraq. The couple have a son (age 21) and a daughter (age 14). The husband had worked for U.S. Army in Iraq so the family’s lives were threatened. They fled to Syria and lived there for nine years. The recent political unrest and fighting has made Syria unsafe also which forced them to move again. The son was injured in cross fire from the Syrian Civil War (also known as the Syrian Uprising). The family decided to apply to move to the United States to ensure their safety. They arrived in Arizona on March 23rd. These parents are hopeful that their son and daughter will study to gain an education in their new community. The whole family is very happy and at peace here.