We will meet a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mother was 11 years old when she fled. She left her home, with her father and her siblings, after her mother was killed in the violence plaguing their country. She arrived in Uganda, where she spent the next 15 years. While in Uganda, she met and married her husband and they had 4 daughters, now ages 8, 5, 3 and 1. Sadly, her father passed away while awaiting asylum in Uganda. The family has been in Phoenix for 5 months. The older children are enrolled in school and really enjoy it. The husband has secured work, and the mother is at home with the younger children and watches her neighbors’ children as well. The mother said that the family is happy for the safety they have found here. She said, “It is good sleeping with no fear.”
We will also visit a family from Myanmar (formerly Burma). The father is Rohingya. As a member of this minority Muslim ethnic group, he and his family had no civil rights: they could not vote, work or go to school. There was no water where they lived an often they did not have enough food. After their first child was born, the father fled, first to Thailand and eventually to Malaysia. When he had safely arrived, his wife and 1-year old daughter joined him. The family was in Malaysia for 11 years awaiting asylum. In that time, the dad worked part time as a handy man. When work was good, and they had the funds to pay the fees, their children could attend school. Many times, the children could not go to school.
The family has been in Phoenix for 3 months. While they do not have any family here with them, they do have very good friends, a Rohingya family whom they met in Malaysia, as neighbors. The father was very excited to share with us that he and his friend actually work at the same place here in Phoenix. Their 4 daughters are in school full time, and doing well. Their youngest, a boy, is home with mom. When asked how she felt about Phoenix, the mother said she knows this new beginning will be hard. “Everything is so different from Malaysia,” she said. She said she knows they are starting from scratch here, and will have to work hard and try hard. She and her husband are willing to put in all the hard work to make America their new home.