May 29, 2010

Burmese FlagThe first family is originally from Burma but arrived in Phoenix via Thailand. The husband and wife both fled from the Burmese government and military with their parents who were farmers when they were about 6 years old. Both of them then lived in a refugee camp in Northern Thailand for 18 years. They met, married and had both of their children while living there. The father went to sporadic classes held in the camp and received the equivalent of a 9th grade education where he learned a little English. The whole family has been in Phoenix for a little more than 2 months. Dad is taking English classes and he already has a job in the evenings. Both parents are very happy to be in the USA because they don’t have to be afraid for their children and they feel like their children now have a future. Dad has a sister who has been living in Phoenix for nearly 2 years. They are very happy.

The second family recently arrived from the Congo via Malawi because of the civil war and the danger to the family. The mother is only 31 and the head of the household of 6 children the youngest who is only one. The father recently passed away while they were living in a refugee camp where they had been living for 7 years. The mother was not sure how she could keep her family on her own. She applied to the UN for refugee status and was sent here to Phoenix. The mother is looking forward to her older children starting school and getting a good education. She said that there were no reliable schools in the camp and that she and her family often went without food for 2 or 3 days. She is very happy and thankful to be living somewhere where her children don’t have to worry about food or water and where they can make a good life.

Our last family was another family of 13 originally from the Congo. They fled to Tanzania because of the civil war and poverty. They lived in a refugee camp there for 14 years. The father was a Math and Physics Teacher at a big school in the Congo. Recently in the refugee camp rebels from the Congo government had kidnapped him and tried to remove him from the Refugee camp, his wife went to the UN authorities after which they searched the entire camp and found him before he could be “relocated”. He and his immediate family were granted refugee status and moved to Phoenix – they had been here for only 6 days when we met them and were trying to adjust to the time changes amongst everything else. The father taught his children to read and write and encouraged his older children to teach other children inside the camp. His family, work and school are most important to him. The father’s two oldest sons are very interested in learning English quickly to get jobs and start school. Both the Father and the Mother are extremely grateful and thankful that they can give all their children a good future even though their resources are so limited now.

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