June 2, 2012

Somali FlagThe first family we will visit is from Somalia. They moved to South Africa before receiving refugee status in the United States. This family has five children. All are school-aged, with one heading off to college soon. The family first emigrated to South Africa, where their living conditions were very harsh. They encountered a great deal of racism in South Africa.  The mother had a small business in South Africa, where she ran a bakery that sold products on the streets.  While they were in South Africa the family learned English in school, and their command of English is very strong. The eldest daughter is very excited about working and about her transition to life as a college student. She dreams of being a pharmacist.  The eldest daughter’s command of English is so strong she volunteered to help interpret for next family we visited in the same complex. It is very convenient that they are neighbors because they are from the same country and children of similar ages. The children can play together and the families can share some of the responsibilities of watching the children. This family lives in a modest apartment and they will benefit greatly from some extra furnishings and household items to make their lives more comfortable.

Somali FlagThe next family we will visit is also from Somalia. This family of five consists of a young divorced mother, one high school aged child and three elementary school aged children. They first emigrated to Botswana and then to the United States.  Living conditions in the refugee camps in Botswana were very harsh. There were almost no job opportunities and there were inadequate educational opportunities for the children. The family lived in a refugee camp for thirteen years. In fact, all of the children were born in the camp. Medical care in the camp was very minimal. After the family expressed their difficulties to the UN agents they were granted permission to travel to the USA. The children’s father lives in Arizona, but he lives fairly far from the family. The youngest children are enrolled in a school that is just one block away from the family’s apartment, and they will begin school in August. This family would love a TV, and all of the younger children would be thrilled to receive bicycles.

Iranian FlagThe last family whom we will welcome is from Iran. They first settled in Turkey, and then moved to the United States. The father is actively looking for employment in the US.  The mother has taught herself some English from books, and is eager to learn more. She reminisces about the beauty of Iran and misses her home, but is enthusiastic about her life in the United States. This family moved to Turkey because of religious persecution they suffered in Iran due to the parent’s different religions. The father had been a quality control specialist in a Peugeot plant in Iran, but was only able to find work as a welder in Turkey. The family saw the very limited opportunities in Turkey. They completed paperwork to gain refugee status in the United States.  It took them two years to get approval. The mother is a trained hairstylist and also has great sewing skills, yet it would be difficult for her to work outside of the home due to the young age of their daughter. While she was living in Turkey she learned the art of embroidery and fabric design. She would love a sewing machine to keep up her skills. Dad would like small weight set to stay healthy.



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