The first family we will visit is from Burma. The father (43) and mother (30) have 3 children (ages 7, 5, and 3). The mother and father left Burma separately in 1996, fleeing the civil unrest in their country. They met in a refugee camp in Malaysia, where they married in 2007. All their children were born in the camp. In Malaysia, the father worked in construction, while the mother was at home with the children. The children were not allowed to go to the public schools, but did receive some education at the community school in the camp. The family arrived in Phoenix at the end of July. The older children are enrolled in school, and are enjoying their first “real” school experience. The mother and father are both taking English classes.The father has just gotten his first job in the U.S.!The family’s favorite things about being in the USA are the freedom, and how friendly the people are. In Malaysia, because they did not have any legal status under the law, they lived in constant fear. They are happy to be in a place where they are no longer afraid and where their children can be happy.
The second family we will visit is also from Burma. The father (32) and mother (35) have 3 children (ages 10, 8 and 6). The mother and father escaped Burma when they were just small children; they grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand. It was there that they met, were married and had all their children. Because they had no legal status Thailand, the parents were not able to work and the children were not allowed to attend school. The three children are enrolled in school and learning English, and the father has secured a job working in a Thai restaurant. The mother will be taking English classes, but is feeling a little overwhelmed after only two months in Phoenix. This family has relatives in the Phoenix area, but their closest family members are still in Thailand.
Our third visit will be to a single man (24) from Afghanistan. This young man served both the US Army and Air Force as a translator. As a result of his collaboration with our armed forces, his life was in danger and he was forced to flee. He came directly to Phoenix from Afghanistan. This young man is still awaiting his social security card; as soon as he gets it, he will be able to look for employment. He has friends from Afghanistan, co-workers who also assisted the US armed forces, who have also relocated to Phoenix. All of his family remains in Afghanistan, but he is able to speak with them almost every day. This young man says the best aspects of being in the USA are the safety he now feels, the freedom he has, and the opportunities he knows are coming. He is very grateful to Welcome to America for helping him feel welcome.