Family Bios: September 15, 2018 (morning)


We will visit 2 families from the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose children go to school at the Valencia Newcomer School , a WTAP partner organization.  The first family includes a man, his four children and his mother.  His wife died in refugee camp.  The family arrived to Phoenix just a few months ago after spending most of their life in a Tanzania refugee camp.  The man fled DRC with his family as a young child.  He met his wife and began a family in camp.  All of his children were born in camp.  After 20 years, he and his mother have their first real home.   The children are adjusting well to school.  The man is employed in food processing.


The other family includes a husband, wife and their six children.  All of the children were born into refugee camp.  The husband and wife fled the dangers of war in DRC almost 20 years ago.  The met and married in camp and began to raise a family. We will learn more about this family when we meet them on Saturday.




We will also visit a family from Afghanistan. The father worked with the US Armed Forces for 7 years. When his family began to receive threats and he was unable to secure a Special Immigration Visa from the USA, he fled with his pregnant wife and their toddler. They stayed in Pakistan for 4 years awaiting a grant of asylum. Their journey to Phoenix has been very difficult. The father says he hopes people know how hard it is to run away from home, to leave behind your family and friends, to give up all control over your life, your family, your future, just so you can be safe. He described the many, many interviews the family endured in the asylum process. In 2017, this family was accepted for resettlement in the USA. But his wife had just discovered she was pregnant and they were told they could not leave until the baby underwent a medical exam. Their anxiety was compounded as a new administration took office in the US and changed the criteria for accepting refugees. They had to wait 12 more months before finally coming to the States.  Initially, the family was settled in Detroit. Unfortunately, their apartment was infested with bugs and they did not feel secure in their neighborhood. After a couple of months, they were transferred to Phoenix. Since all of their resettlement funds had been used up in Detroit, the family arrived with next to nothing.  So far, they really like Phoenix. Their caseworker, a former WTAP client, is also from Afghanistan and has been helping them settle in their new apartment. They were very happy for the WTAP initial visit and are looking forward to meeting the welcome volunteers!


Family Bios: June 2, 2018 (Morning)

We will meet a family from Ethiopia.  The mother in this family (currently 19 years old) left Ethiopia with a friend when she was 14 years old.  She arrived in Nairobi and lived in a home for single women for five years before being relocated and settled here.  She arrived on Valentine’s day with her 5 year old daughter.  The mother understands some English and will enroll in English classes.  She likes vases with flowers in them.  The daughter is she counts to ten, knows her ABC’s and is very eager to learn.  They have met another family who lives near by and is helping them get to the store and adjust to their life here.



We will meet a woman originally from Pakistan.  She taught English and Social Studies to children in first and second grade.  She is Christian and taught mostly Muslim children, because of the religious difference her life was threatened so she left for Sri Lanka.  She lived there three years before being relocated here.  She has brothers and sisters who live in Pakistan.  She has a master’s degree in education and applied for a substitute teaching certificate.  She is eager to find a job as a teacher’s assistant so she can learn the school system, then work her way to teaching.  She has computer skills and is looking forward to having a computer and musical keyboard to help with her teaching.  Her favorite colors are green and blue.



We will meet two men who were placed together as roommates.  They are 51 and 53 years old and both from Pakistan.  Back in Pakistan they both have wives and children with whom they hope to reunite.. The 53 year old man has not hugged his family for 5 years since he left Pakistan.  He was detained while trying to get to Australia and sent to the island of Nauru.  He explained conditions were extremely hard there:  20-25 men per tent, hot and humid weather, no trees for shelter, limited drinking water and expired food.  Because they also have limited medical care on the island, he was sent to Australia for care and was arrested in the middle of the night and sent back to Nauru without medical care.  In Pakistan, he owned his own auto repair shop for 28 years.  He is eager to get back on his feet, buy needed tools and eventually open his own auto repair and body shop.  He speaks English well.

Family Bios: May 12, 2018

What an arduous journey one of this week’s families had to make to arrive safely in the USA! The mother, is a native of Kuwait who married a man from Iraq.  She and her husband lived in Iraq and had 2 children, a son and a daughter. When her husband was killed, she fled the country with her children and moved back to Kuwait.  After a time, she married a man from Egypt. Together they raised her first 2 children and had 2 more. But her first children could not become Kuwaiti citizens or attend school or work, and they could not return to Iraq. She sought and obtained asylum for her 2 older children who then came to the USA and lived with an aunt and uncle.  For 3 years, this family remained separated. Just last month, she arrived here with her 2 younger children; she was 8 months pregnant.  Unfortunately, her husband was not allowed to come and remains in Egypt.  She shared this story with tears in her eyes. She is so grateful to be back with all her children, and happily welcomed the newest American member of their family 2 weeks ago.  It has been a hard journey to get here, but the family is glad to be safe and together now. Welcome to America!

We will also visit a single man from Senegal. He was persecuted in Senegal for his identity and fled to Morocco. He was in Morocco for 9 years awaiting asylum.  In Morocco, he learned to cook.  In fact, he is a chef specializing in Moroccan and European cuisine. He arrived in Phoenix just a month ago and was delighted to find a friend he had met back in Morocco living just a few miles away. When our volunteers visited, he was very excited about an upcoming interview for a job in a restaurant.    He said he was really grateful to have people (the WTAP home visitors) with whom to converse.  As our volunteers were leaving, he offered his heartfelt thanks. He said he never expected anything like this to happen, and that he was really left without adequate words. Welcome to America, neighbor!

Another family we will visit is from Democratic Republic of Congo. Dad fled after his parents were both killed in the war. He lived in camp for 12 years. Mom fled with her family when she was just a little girl. She lived in a refugee camp for 18 years.  Mom and dad met in camp, fell in love and got married. They had 4 children before being granted asylum. Since arriving in the USA 18 months ago, there has been a new a new addition to their family, a baby boy.  The family is so thankful to be here all together. The children are doing very well in school and speaking English. Dad is working a job he enjoys. Mom was so excited to get a picture of all of their children, which we will bring back for her to hang on the wall. Welcome neighbors!

Family Bios: April 21, 2018


We’ll visit a 29 year old man from Eritrea.  He left his country 8 years ago due to the unstable political climate, an oppressive dictatorship and fear for his safety.  He fled to many refugee camps including Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt before finally staying at a camp in Israel for 7 years.  He arrived in the United States in early Feb. 2018.  He is looking for work here and getting established along with learning English.  He has previously worked in grocery stores and restaurants and hopes to find something similar here. He currently shares an apartment with another young refugee from Eritrea.


We’ll also visit a family of 7 from Damascus, Syria. They fled their home almost 4 years ago and journeyed to Jordan where the father found work painting cars.  Their home country was very unsafe due to the current war and they feared for their lives.  They arrived in June 2016 with their 4 children, (daughters now ages 5, 10 and 15) and son (now 17). The family just welcomed a newborn son just welcomed a son one month ago.  They feel very blessed he was born in the US. The older children are in school and very much enjoy it.  They are very relieved to be in the US where they feel safe.

Family Bios: March 10, 2018

We will visit a family who consists of a father, age 38, and a mother, age 35, and seven daughters, ages, 6 months, 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 15.  They are from Syria and were fleeing the war in their country.  They arrived in the United States in September 2016 and came to Arizona through a process provided by the United Nations.  Prior to leaving Syria, the father had worked in the construction business, and he is currently employed at as a custodian.  The mother has always worked in the home.  The family is happy, and are excited about being able to live and learn in a safe environment.  They remarked that  the education system is the best thing about being in the United States.  The family’s dream is to have their own home as they are all now living in a two bedroom apartment.


We’ll also visit a family from Eritrea who includes of a father, age, 46, and a mother, age 42, and eight children (three sons, ages 23, 11, and 10, and five daughters, ages 22, 19, 17, 13, and 6).  The family arrived from Eritrea in December 2015 fleeing government persecution.  The oldest daughter was the spokesperson for the family, and she said that “there was no freedom in her country”.   Her father, who was a farmer, lost his farm as the government confiscated it and the family’s home.  Her father is currently working as a gardener, and her mother began a job at a courier company.  The oldest son is disabled (deaf and mute).  The oldest daughter just graduated from high school, and she will be studying nursing at Phoenix College beginning in March of this year,  She said that her high school assisted her in getting financial assistance so that she could attend college.  She noted that all of the other family members are currently in school, and they all enjoy their educational experiences here.  She describes living in the United States as “great”, and the family’s dream is to have a house for their large family as they are now living in a two bedroom apartment.


And we will visit a Congolese family that includes a father, age 70, a mother, age 56, and three sons, ages 34, 25, and 16, and three daughters, ages 21, 18, and 14, and three grandsons, ages 6, 4, and 6 months.  Their oldest daughter has the three sons, and this family lives in a separate apartment in the same complex.  The family is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo but they fled their country in 1996, and they were in Tanzania in a refugee camp for 21 years before they came to the United States in June 2016 and settled in Arizona.  Prior to leaving his country, the father had his own boat and was a fisherman.  It was very difficult for him to work in the camp, and he developed a small business buying and selling items so that he could support his family.  The father is unable to work because of his medical problems but his wife is currently employed at a pizza chain. Their 25 year old son is working in a factory but wants to attend college and study mechanical engineering.  He is now trying to find financial assistance to attend school.  When asked about their experience in America, their 25 year old son who was studying English on the computer while we were at the home, responded that life is “great” compared to Africa but noted that it is still a struggle for the family.

Family Bios: January 13, 2018

We’ll visit a family who had to flee the unrest and violence in their home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. They escaped to Uganda, where they lived in a refugee camp and where some of the children were born. It was not possible for refugee families to get regular work in Uganda, but these parents were able to grow some of their food such as corn and beans. There are four sons (ages 13, 12, 11,7) and three daughters ( 5,3,1). They have been in Arizona less than two months, but seem optimistic and lively. The children are really looking forward to getting enrolled in school after this holiday season.


We’ll also visit a mother and her children, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who spent time in Malawi before being resettled in Arizona. The children have been in school here for several months now and like it very much. They have new friends in their apartment/school community . Unfortunately, their mother is in poor health.



And we will visit a third family, also from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is related to the above mentioned family. The children and their father spent time in a refugee camp in Tanzania before being resettled here. They have been in Arizona now for about 7 months. The children enjoy school and are learning English quickly.

Family Bios: July 22, 2017

We will visit a family of nine, originally from Democratic Republic of Congo, who spent 20 years in a refugee camp  All of their children were born in camp.  The mother and father fled the Congo due to danger from the various wars.  The father worked in construction and continued this work in camp in Tanzania.  The mother stayed at home with the children.  There are four daughters, ranging in age from 9 to 17, and three sons, ranging in age from 1 to 20.  The children speak English very well.   The family arrived to the US in 2016.  They talk about how much they like school especially math, science, soccer and basketball.  The father has found work as a kitchen worker at a local restaurant.  They are happy to be safe in America and appreciate the help they are getting.


We will visit a family from Mosul, Iraq who made their way to the United States via a very harrowing journey.  The family left Iraq in 2014 and fled to Turkey where they stayed for 2 years.  Turkey proved unsafe and the mother and her two sons, age 4 and 9, left Turkey on a very treacherous journey by sea to Greece.   They described having to constantly bail water from the boat, using shoes and anything they had so the boat didn’t sink.  They talked of the drivers on the boat having guns and not feeling safe onboard.  They remained in Greece until they could get passage to the US.  The arrived to our country in October 2016.  Unfortunately the father was not able to leave Turkey so the mother and children have traveled alone.  They hope their father will be able to join them in the US.  The mother is under medical care and is learning to speak English.  The nine year old speaks very good English and will be in 5th grade this year.

And we will visit a family from Syria.  The family includes a couple and their three teen age children (2 girls and 1 boy).  They arrived to the US in August 2016.

Family Bios: May 13, 2017

This household includes a woman, 28 years old from Iran.  She escaped persecution in Iran and lived in Turkey for 4 years before being given permission to settle in the United States.  In Iran, she had studied to be an architect but also is an artist –  likes to sing, dance, paint, do hair and makeup.  She might even go back to school to be a doctor.  Her family is all back home.  She only arrived three weeks ago and, with no family in our country, is living with a friend.  She speaks English well and is excited to start working and making a life for herself here.


This family is from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The family includes a couple and their three sons ages 17, 15 and 10 and three daughters ages 12, six and newborn.  They arrived about 3 weeks ago to join their 20 year old daughter who has been here 8 months with her two children.  The mother and father were bean and maize farmers and left their home while pregnant with first child, nearly 20 years ago.  They found relative safety in an Ugandan refugee camp, where all the children were born raised and went to school.  The children learned some English in school.   They all look forward to safe and productive lives in our country.


This refugee is a 70 year old single man from Burundi.  He escaped prejudice and civil war in his country and was granted entry into the United States.  He has been living here for a few years but remains isolated from his family back home.   



We’ll also deliver to three families from Cuba.  All three households include young, industrious couples in their late twenties/early thirties.  One couple has a 1 year old daughter.  All are recent arrivals to our country and had long journeys, often on foot , through South and Central America to arrive at our border for asylum.  They are appreciative of the freedoms that our country offers and look forward to pursuing the American dream.


Arizona State law allows those who pay state taxes to redirect up to $400 ($800 for jointly filing couples) to qualifying charitable organizations, like The Welcome to America Project. Any amount that is given is then deducted, dollar for dollar, from the total amount of owed state taxes. So, if you owe $400 in state taxes, and you gave away $400 to qualifying charitable organizations, you will have to pay $0 to the state at tax time. It’s that simple! You can take part of your taxes and spend them directly at organizations you know are doing good work for our community.

Here’s what you need to know:

The law allows individuals to give up to $400, and jointly filing couples can give up to $800.

Yes. The maximum allowed may be divided amongst multiple qualifying organizations.

No. A full list of qualifying organizations is available at the AZ Department of Revenue website.  (https://www.azdor.gov/TaxCredits/QualifyingCharitableOrganizations.aspx)

Yes. If you give to your public or private school, you can also make a tax credit contribution to a charitable organization and a separate one to Foster Care Charitable Organizations, too. Please note that the maximum contributions for each program are different.

Complete Department of Revenue Fprm 321. You do not need to itemize deductions to claim this credit. Please consult a tax expert if you have specific questions.

Beginning in 2016, the deadline for claiming a tax credit is April 15. Credits donated on or before this day may be applied to either the current or preceding taxable year. Many people like to make their contribution by Dec. 31, the end of the fiscal year for accounting purposes.



October 7, 2001

15 years ago today, still reeling from the loss of her brother-in-law in the 9/11 original-tribune-photo-articleterrorist attacks, Carolyn Manning was drawn to a powerful image of a young refugee family on the front page of a local newspaper. This mother, father, and four children, with a fifth on the way, sat together in a noticeably barren and unwelcoming apartment.

Carolyn would come to find out that the young family had fled Afghanistan after also suffering at the hands of the same terrorist organization that had brought down the Twin Towers, killing her brother-in-law. She yearned to connect with this family who uniquely shared in her family’s suffering. This image and Carolyn’s subsequent actions were seeds of compassion that grew into the Welcome to America Project.

Check out this video about how the Welcome to America Project got started.