Our first family left Burma because they were poor and because they were mistreated and discriminated against. They are of the Karenni ethic minority, persecuted by the Burmese/Myanmar government for decades. The father spent 19 years in a refugee camp in Thailand, where he met his Burmese wife and where their four children were born (their daughters are now 18 and 13 years old; their sons are 15 and 8). Since their recent move to Phoenix, they have been attending English language classes and the father is looking for work.
Our second family is also from Burma. Life in Burma was hard for them. Because they were part of the Karenni ethnic minority, the Burmese/Myanmar government made it hard to find work and they were not allowed to enroll in school. The family comes to Arizona from a refugee camp in Malaysia. The father spent 4 years in Malaysia; his wife and children lived there for 2 years. He was able to find work sometimes in restaurants and as a pipe layer; his wife worked as a seamstress. They have been in Arizona one month. The daughters are now 18 and 16; the sons are 14 and 9 years of age.
Our third Burmese family lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for 17 years. Part of the Karenni ethnic minority, the parents left Burma because they were attacked by soldiers there. The Karenni people have been subject to systematic arrests, imprisonment, killings, destruction of houses, forced relocations, and land seizures. While in the Thai refugee camp, the father was able to find farm work sometimes. Their sons are now 17, 9 and 6 years of age; their daughter is 15. One of the boys is a child with special needs.