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November 19, 2011

Bhutanese FlagThe first family we will visit is a family of four from Bhutan. This family consists of a husband and wife, their son and the husband’s mother. The army forced them out of Bhutan because of their Nepalese origins. The husband was able to get asylum in Nepal where he lived in a refugee camp for 20 years. The husband is a teacher and had taught math and science. He is proficient in English, Bhutanese, Nepalese and Hindi and would like to be fully employed as soon as possible. The husband and his mother like the U.S. The son is enrolled in a charter school and is in need of winter clothing, shoes, toys, books and other educational items including a school uniform. The family also needs winter clothing. The husband is bright and advocated well for himself and his family.

Iraqi FlagJordanian flagThe second family we will visit consists of two young women who are unrelated. One girl is from Iraq and the other from Jordan. Both have some difficulty expressing themselves in English but get by through object reference and by helping one another. The older girl from Iraq is a trained Sound Engineer and also worked with the American Army in Iraq. She left Iraq for Turkey where she stayed one year and four months until her arrival in the US. She felt it was unsafe for her in Iraq because of the war, violence and lack of personal freedom in a male dominated society. She met her current roommate from Jordan on the Internet and they both decided to meet in Turkey and live there until their arrival in the US. The younger Jordanian female reported physical and emotional abuse from her father and lack of personal freedom choice as her reason for leaving and seeking refuge. Both women are in need of ESL classes and want to further their education.

Eritrean FlagThe third family we will visit is a young Eritrean couple. They arrived in Phoenix from Malta where they spent several years in a refugee camp. The young man’s life as a refugee began when he and his parents were forced to leave Ethiopia where he was born. Eritrea is a neighbor of Ethiopia, but the Eritreans were no longer welcome in Ethiopia after Eritrea won a war of independence. In Eritrea, all young men were forced to join the national service upon graduation from high school. Life in the military was very difficult, and young men could be conscripted for life. Ultimately he and his wife fled to Sudan. From Sudan it took them a grueling month to get across the desert by car to Libya. Although they found other Eritreans in Libya, life there was harsh. Both he and his wife were in and out of Libyan prisons numerous times over the next years. She was so severely beaten by guards that she required surgery. When they were both out of prison, they tried twice to reach Europe by boat and were successful on the second attempt. A tent in a Malta refugee camp was their home for several years. It was often cold. He was able to find work, first laying tile then as a hospital cleaner, but his wages much lower than locals were earning for the same work. While in the camp his wife became pregnant, but she received poor health care. The baby was lost and she was left with medical problems. They both look forward to starting a new life in the United States and hope to find jobs soon.

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