April 30, 2011

Bhutanese FlagThis week’s families are originally from Bhutan, Haiti and Burma. Our first family, a large group from Bhutan arrived in early January via Nepal. This family consists of elderly parents, their two adult children with their spouses, and a two-year-old toddler. We were cheerfully greeted by one of the young wives who speaks English fairly well. Also present was the elderly mother, the two yr. old toddler, and one of the husbands who is hearing impaired. Their journey began 19 years ago when they fled their homeland in Bhutan. Before leaving, they were self-employed as farmers. They were not able to work while in Nepal. The family applied for refugee status and it took approximately one year before they were approved to come to the United States. Now, they are all living together in a three bedroom apartment. . The young woman told us that both she and her husband have found employment and are happy to be able to help support their large family. Special Requests: educational toys/materials for the little girl to help with English learning skills; vacuum cleaner, clothes drying rack.

Haitian flagOur second home visit was with a woman from Haiti. She has only been in Phoenix for approximately one week and had recently been released from the hospital. She struggled to walk around the apartment during our visit with her and uses a cane for assistance. Her heartbreaking story includes tragedy resulting from the massive earthquake that struck Haiti in January, 2010. She was in her home with her daughter when the earthquake hit and both were trapped by debris. Rescuers were able to dig her out of the rubble, but unfortunately could not save her daughter. She has two additional children and grandchildren. In Haiti, her home did not have electrical appliances and she relied on a charcoal barbecue to prepare her food. She said that they experienced electrical blackouts all the time. Before she came to the U.S. she was employed as a receptionist at a hotel. She speaks French and a little bit of English. She said that she likes it here and that God has given her everything for which she is thankful. Special Requests: word puzzle books (English) and flowers to make her apartment more like home.

Burmese FlagThe third family we visited was from Burma. This Karenni family of six consists of a mother, father and their four daughters, between the ages of 5 and thirteen. We did not have an interpreter present so we were unable to learn much about their journey to Phoenix. We were told that they’d arrived approximately one month ago. While they do have some furniture, they could use additional items to make their apartment more comfortable. A vacuum cleaner, wall décor, toys, backpacks/school supplies for the children, English language learning items (books, games, movies, etc.) would be appreciated.

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