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September 17, 2011

Bhutanese FlagThe first apartment we visited had 8 people living in a 3 bedroom apartment. The family consists of a young couple and their 4 year old daughter, plus the husband’s father, mother, sister, aunt and uncle. A cousin lives nearby and was called to translate. The elders in the family farmed rice, corn, oranges and cardamom in Bhutan. They left Bhutan in 1992 because their religion and culture were banned and the King told people to leave or be killed. They have been in a refugee camp in Nepal for 18 years. The son was able to finish his studies and work in a clothes shop. The elders shared their frustration about the lack of human rights for the people of Bhutan who were forced to leave their country and kept in Nepal for so long for labor purposes. When they left Bhutan, they thought they would soon go back to their farm, and 18 years later they have been resettled here in the U.S. They were very thankful for our help.

Iranian FlagThis 46 year old man from Iran has been here for 9 months. We visited him because he has been relocated to a new apartment and his case worker thought he needed some items. He speaks English well and is friendly. He was a journalist in Iran and was forced to leave for political reasons. He went to Turkey and applied for refugee status and within a year was accepted. As we talked to him and asked him what he needed, he said he has the essentials, what he really wants and needs is a job. He loves to read and likes to spend time at the library. He has his 94 year old mother and a sister in Iran who he keeps in touch with.

Iranian FlagOur last visit was to a refugee family from Iran who arrived in Arizona towards the end of July. We spoke with the mother who is 32 years old. Her 5 year old daughter attends kindergarten and was not home for the visit. They do not know where her husband is. He came to live in the U.S. with his family when he was a 9 year old boy. He grew up and was educated here and returned to Iran for his wedding, which was arranged by his family. The Iranian government suspected him of being a spy because he returned after so many years. The family was picked up on several occasions and taken to different locations for questioning. They were threatened. The wife and daughter escaped to Turkey and have not heard from the husband since. She hopes to hear news about him. The wife shared with us about having an arranged marriage. She said she was worried until she met her husband-to-be for the first time. She liked him right away because he was clean, treated women with respect and was educated. The daughter is learning English and doing well in school. She told her mother “my teacher’s name is teacher.” She occasionally asks her mother where they will go next.

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