May 9, 2012 10:33 AM

Refugee family working hard to live the American Dream, in Tucson

TUCSON- When Tucsonans talk immigration their minds usually travel about 45 minutes south to the border.

But every year hundreds of immigrants with a very different story travel from as far away as South Asia, to the Old Pueblo, in hopes of living the American Dream.

Twenty-seven-year-old Vishnu Viswa is not only an immigrant, she's a refugee, granted safety in the United States, after being rescued from war and oppression in her homeland of Bhutan.

In February she came to the United States with her husband and now 11-month-old baby, Angela.

"I hope that my daughter will get a better education here and she will be a great person here in United States,"
Viswa told News 4 Tucson through a translator.

She's wishing for a much better life than the one her family would have lived back home in Bhutan. "Not enough food to eat, not enough clothes to wear, no education system," Vishnu says.

Viswa is one of about 800 refugees who travel to Tucson each year after being given sanction by the U.S. Government.

"I have been waiting for a long time to go through the process of coming to the United States."

But once she arrived, she realized getting used to a new life here isn't easy. "I find the big challenge is the language barrier, I don't know much English," Viswa says.

That's where Chandra Sangroul steps in, "I welcomed her to the United States," Sangroul says.

Sangroul is also a refugee from Bhutan. She came to Tucson three years ago and much like Viswa, she didn't have a lot of money and she didn't speak much English.

But today she works for Tucson's International Rescue Committee. It has a program called the Well-Being Promotion Program. Sangroul is known as a "promoter".

She helps settle newly arrived refugee women like Viswa. "I educate her about the new culture and new system here," she says. "I talk to her about personal hygiene, safety, public safety, pool safety."

Sangroul received the same help from the IRC when she moved here.

"We've realized that when women have this kind of woman to woman, same culture, same language, connection, that they're really thriving," IRC Well-Being Promotion Program Coordinator Lauren Schroeder says.

The promoters meet with their clients on a regular basis. "More than anything they want to live independent and self sufficient lives and that's what they're working toward," Schroeder says.

Today Vishnu Viswa is taking classes at Pima Community College. Her husband works as a restaurant server. For them it's one step closer in providing a brighter future for Angela, one step closer to living the American Dream.

Tucson's International Rescue Committee is a humanitarian organization that has resettled more than 3,000 refugees here in Southern Arizona since 1997.

If you want to learn more about how you can help please go to:



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