Our first family is from Iraq and consists of a single mother and her two sons, ages 8 and 4. While in Baghdad, her husband had worked with the U.S. Army as a mechanic. They were threatened and moved to Syria, where they lived for 4 years along with the husband’s parents. They arrived in Phoenix in September of 2009. About 2 months ago the mother and father separated. The children are enjoying living in the United States.
Our next family is from Cuba and has a father and 16-year-old daughter. When they came here, there was a 22-year-old daughter with them who now lives in New Jersey. The father had spent 3 years in jail, from 1982 to 1985, for writing on walls and distributing papers criticizing the government of Cuba. In 2005 he began paper work to come to the U.S. at the Swiss Embassy. Between 2005 and the time he left Cuba he was frequently brought to the jail. He told us the police officers would stop him and say they needed to talk to him. They would put him in the jail, then interrogate him and threaten him. He said when he found out he would be coming to the U.S., he would not believe it until the plane had landed in Phoenix. At times, the Cuban government would stop people as they were boarding the plane. The daughter goes to high school and the father just got a job as a truck driver at a distribution center.
Our third family is from Iraq. We were quite surprised to see that the mother wore a burqa type of veil and covered her body completely, even wearing gloves. She was very sweet and enjoyed talking to us through an interpreter. In this family are a mother, father and 7-year-old daughter. They lived in Baghdad until gunman came to their house trying to kidnap the daughter at gunpoint. There were many other threats, which they believe were due to their religion. In 2006, they moved from Baghdad to Syria. Syria was beautiful and safe, but they were not allowed to work there. On February 17th of this year, they arrived in Phoenix. In April, the daughter was riding a bike and fell. The fall was so serious that she was airlifted to the hospital and brain surgery was performed. The mother tells us that her daughter has had a difficult time adjusting to the move.