This visit is with two male friends from Cuba who decided to flee together from the country so that they could provide a better life for themselves and the families they left behind. They began in Ecuador and traveled for five weeks through Central America to Mexico where they crossed the border into the United States in May. One of the men said that the journey was so arduous that he thought he would not survive it. He said they hardly ate for weeks and at one point had no water for three days. After arriving in the U.S., they lived on the streets for 6 weeks before they settled into their apartment in Phoenix, but have not been able to buy any furnishings, not even a bed, for their home. The older gentleman has two sons, ages 13 and 18, and his hope is that he can eventually bring his children to the States. In Cuba he worked as a taxi driver and in construction, but found it difficult to find employment. The younger man is married and has two sons, ages 1 and 5. He also worked in construction, but had difficulty supporting his family on his earnings. Both are pleased to be in the United States and plan to study English. They are waiting for their employment cards from the government, so that they can begin working.
This family consists of a mother, age 47, her son, age 27, and her daughter age 18. They fled Iraq for Syria in 2006 after the mother saw her daughter executed in front of her and her older son kidnapped. They arrived in the States in June 2015 and settled in the same apartment complex in Phoenix where her oldest son lives with his wife and two school age children. The family is happy to be here, and the daughter is already enrolled in community college where she wants to study engineering. The son is focused on learning English and would also like to go to school.
This family consists of a mother, age 37, and her daughter, age 10. After leaving Cuba, they crossed the border into the U.S. from Mexico in hopes of finding a better life. The mother is a college graduate and worked as a librarian in Cuba, but only earned $20 a month. She had to supplement her income by working a second job as a seamstress. She left her mother and sister in Cuba and became tearful as she discussed how hard it has been to leave everything behind. Her daughter began school last week and is enjoying her experience in America. The mother is now studying English and would like to go back to school. She hopes some day to work again in her profession as a librarian, but is now waiting for her employment papers from the government so that she can work.