Our first family is a family of four from Cuba, a husband and wife, their son, and their son’s child. Only the husband and wife were home when we made the visit. Before coming to the United States, life was difficult for them. When the wife was young, she and her family were political prisoners for a time because they refused to support the guerillas during the Cuban Revolution. After the revolutionary government released them from prison, it forced them to live in isolation with the other political prisoners. The government also denied them access to state programs such as scholarships for school. This stigma also attached to the husband after he met his wife because of his association with her even though he was not a former political prisoner. The husband and wife have been together now for over 40 years. Their son has a job at a local hotel and their grandchild is in preschool.
Our second family is a family of six from Somalia, a husband, wife, and four children. The husband and wife met in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. They spent 19 years there and had all four of their children in the camp. One child is already in school and a second will start school in January. The husband and wife were not home when we made the visit, but a neighbor and the wife’s mother were able to help us evaluate the family’s needs. The wife’s mother stated that life was difficult in the refugee camp. The family subsisted mostly on corn and some oil to cook the corn with. When asked if she was happy to be in the United States, she replied, “Yes. Wherever there is peace, we are happy.”
Our third family is a family of seven from Afghanistan, a mother and her six children. They fled Afghanistan approximately 10 years ago after fighting broke out in their region. The husband, who was a teacher in Afghanistan, was captured by a militia and hasn’t been seen since. The mother took her children to Iran, where they stayed for about 8 years. Life was hard there because the government considered them illegal immigrants. This meant that the older children could not enroll in the secondary school after they completed elementary school because the elementary school would not issue them graduation certificates. After Iran, the family moved to Turkey where they lived for three or four years. The oldest son was able to get a job working with computers there and the younger children were able to attend school. The mother was not home when we visited because she recently underwent surgery and is still recovering at a local hospital. The surgery was successful and the children are anxious for their mother to be released. They are very happy to be in the United States and to finally be able to settle down and make a permanent home for themselves.