Our first family is from Baghdad, Iraq, and is a mother, father, a daughter that is 21 years old, and two sons 18 and 10 years old. The father had been an English teacher in Iraq and in 2004 was teaching English in Libya. He then got a job with USA Today. On January 7, 2006 Jill Carroll from the Christian Science Monitor was kidnapped and her interpreter, Alan Enwiyah, was shot and killed. The interpreter was a friend of the father of this family. After this, he quit USA Today and worked for the US Army as an interpreter. Then both the father and mother each had a brother that was killed. They had to move around from one house to another for their safety and in the end lost everything that they owned. They arrived here in Phoenix in June of this year directly from Baghdad. The dad and older children are looking for employment. The 10-year-old just celebrated his birthday and is enrolled in school. He could use some school supplies and both boys requested bikes and helmets.
Our next family is from Baghdad, Iraq and is comprised of a mother, children, ages 27, 25, 24, 19, and 17; four daughters and one son. The youngest two are in high school. The mother was a technical assistant until 1988. They moved to Syria 6 years ago because her children were being threatened. While in Syria, the son worked as a baker and one daughter worked as a receptionist at a doctor’s office. The family felt that they were treated well by the Syrian people. They arrived in late June of this year. They do not speak English yet, but are taking classes at the apartment complex. They have a few special requests; bikes for both the daughter and son, and helmets, a sewing machine for the mother, and school supplies.
The third family is from the state of Tshering, Bhutan and made up of a elderly father and mother, a daughter and her 18-year-old son. When we asked about their history, the father seemed delighted. He was talkative and enjoyed answering all of our questions. There is much vegetation in Tshering and he was a farmer who grew rice and corn, among other crops, but he said anything you could think of he grew. He was about 49 years old when the ethnic Nepalese people were being forced out. At this time he was regularly brought to the jail and beaten. Even so, he says he holds no ill feelings towards the king or to the country. He fled Bhutan first and then his family followed him. For the next 18 to 20 years they lived in a refugee camp in Nepal with no electricity, poor sanitation and very little medical treatment. He worried about the environmental conditions they had to live in, such as open sewers breeding mosquitos. On July 12th, his family arrived in Phoenix. He describes being in America as “like Heaven” and he hopes that his family’s past sorrows and pain will diminish with time. He says that although he thinks America is wonderful, he would prefer to go back to his beloved Bhutan. The elderly father does not speak English, but his wife showed us her English notebook. The daughter speaks a little English and her son is enrolled in school. He can use school supplies and a bike and helmet for transportation.