March 31, 2012

Somali FlagThe first family we will visit is from Somalia. This family consists of four members — a young single mother and her three daughters. The daughters range in age between four and nine years old. The family arrived last month from a refugee camp in Uganda. Before Uganda, the mom said life in Somalia was intolerable. Her sister was taken and raped by a warlord. Also, she and her brother became separated, and she does not know if he survived. She had been married, but the relationship turned abusive when the husband returned after a three-year absence. She chose to divorce him and raise her children alone. Life in the refugee camp was very difficult. The mom found work as a farm laborer when possible. They did not have shelter, schooling or food rations on a regular basis until they were given UNHCR assistance. After that, the girls attended school regularly and they had shelter. The girls are enjoying their school in the United States. They said that in the refugee camp, lessons were taught in many languages and it was confusing. They think it will be easier here because their lessons are taught only in one language; English. They have made friends in the apartment complex and at school. Their mom’s dream is for her girls to have a good education and a better life. Their requests include shoes for the girls and a television.

Somali FlagThe second delivery will be to a small Somali family of three who arrived here last month. The family consists of a mom, her son and her daughter, ages 15 and 14. The mom fled Somalia with her husband and an older son in 1991 due to the civil war. They went to a refugee camp in Ethiopia and struggled without shelter or rations for two years before receiving UNHCR assistance. Once UNHCR assistance was given, they were able to build their shelter and received food, water, and medical treatment. The two younger children were born and raised in the refugee camp. They also attended school within the camp. The oldest son, age 26, is still in Ethiopia and hopes to join his family in Phoenix. The family is adjusting to their new life here and says the city is not dissimilar from the city they visited in Ethiopia for their doctor visits. The two teens have not started school yet, but will begin after the spring break holiday. Mom would like to find a job so she can support her family and also send money to her son in Ethiopia. Both teens are interested in sports and requested soccer and basketballs. The daughter would also like art supplies.

Somali FlagThe third delivery will be to a family of four from Somalia. They, too, left Somalia due to the civil war and spent 21 years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. The husband said conditions in the camp were fairly safe and the son attended school while the daughter did not. The husband supplemented their UNHCR assistance with odd jobs found in the camp. They were selected for resettlement in 2009 and were very excited to be going to the United States. The two children — a son and daughter ages 14 and 16 — just had their first day of school. The parents said they had been practicing their English and ABC’s beforehand, and that both were very excited. The family is adjusting well, saying that, besides the language barrier, the biggest adjustment has been to the structured lifestyle here compared to their life in the refugee camp. The father requested bicycles to help with transportation.

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