Arizona's refugee community is diverse, both in what countries people have come from as well as why they had to leave home. This is a look at the stories of refugees from Burma (formerly recognized as Myanmar by the U.S. government).
Name: Pen Pen, 40
Country of Origin: Burma (Chin tribe)
Years in the U.S.:4 years
What she likes about the U.S.: Freedom of religion
What she misses about home: Her parents
Story: Pen Pen has been in the US for the past 4 years, she is a known cook in the Chin community preparing their native dishes in community gatherings and special occasions. Her 10 and 13 yo sons are now in school. She has successfully bought a house here in Phoenix.
Name: Sha Lah, 38, Pawtun 6, and Shee Law Lah, 2
Country of Origin: Burma
Years in the U.S.: 7 years
What Sha Lah likes about the U.S.: He likes that his children are able to study and get proper education in the states. He looks forward to their future. He has three children, the youngest, Shee Law Lah was born here in the United States.
What he misses about home: What he misses about Burma is the climate, the trees, leaves, the greenery that Phoenix does not have.
Name: Paw Ta Sa, 29
Country of Origin: Burma (Karen tribe)
Years in the U.S.: 9 years
What she likes about the U.S.: She likes the weather and the food.
What she misses about home: She misses her parents back home.
Name: Saw Kwa, 64 (husband), and Mumu, 40 (wife) (Karen tribe)
Country of Origin: Burma
Years in the U.S.: 3 years
Story: They ran away from Burma and became refugees in Thailand before coming to the United States.
Name: Muhammad Abdurazak, 42 (father), Norma, 48 (mother), Faridah, 20 (daughter – in bright green sari)
Country of Origin: Burma (Islam)
Years in the U.S.: 9 months
Story: According to Faridah, she misses Burma, its food, its play. They are still adjusting to life in America; part of this adjustment is learning the English language.
Faridah says: “We don't know anything,” implying that they do not know how to commute from one place to another.
Name: Ceu Lian Thang
Country of Origin: Burma (Chin State)
Years in the U.S.: 5 years
Story: Ceu says that if he weren’t in the states, he probably would not get the same level of education he is having now.
What he likes about the states is the good educational system, and says that people are very nice and friendly.
The rest of his family is now in Indiana pursuing a small sushi franchise called Niku Company. Ceu is currently a senior in Grand Canyon University.