March 5, 2011

Eritrean FlagA young Eritrean mother of four children welcomed us into the apartment that has been their home these past 2½ months. We only met her 4 and 1-year-old sons; her 11 and 7-year-old daughters were in school. Although it was clear she loved her native country, she made the difficult decision to relocate after living through the dangers of a civil war in her country followed by 9 years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. She came here for the opportunities her children would have. Her daughters apparently like school and have already made excellent progress learning English. Without a babysitter, it is difficult for the mother to attend English classes, but she would like to. She has a beautiful smile and laughs easily. She would love to have news of her sister and family; it is her dream to be reunited with them.

Iranian FlagThis Iranian family of three arrived 2½ months ago. Of the Baha’i faith, they had to flee their country because of religious discrimination and persecution. They spent a short time in Turkey before being relocated to the US. They still have parents in Iran, but a sister and her children are already here in the Phoenix area. Their 13-year-old daughter is with them and they said she is getting used to school. Her favorite subjects are language and math. While the family was still living in Iran, their only other child, a boy, was killed in a car accident on his way to school. They still feel his loss deeply. At some point, this couple hopes to be able to continue their education here.

Democratic Republic of Congo flagOur third family came originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The parents and their two sons managed to escape the vicious warfare against the Tutsi minority. They ultimately reached a Rwandan refugee camp where they lived for ten years and where their three daughters were born. There apparently was some education for the children at the camp, at least up to high school level. The children now range in ages from 4 to15. They have been here only two months, but all the children except the youngest are settled in school. We only met the mother and her friendly 4-year-old daughter. The mother was a delightful, welcoming, cheerful person who has created a spotless and well-organized home for her family.

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