Nivin enjoyed her life and work in Assute, Egypt, where she wrote and produced plays, led a traveling children's ministry, and enjoyed time with her friends and family. When she met her future husband, one of her first questions was, "Will you ever want to leave here?" To Nivin's delight, he replied, "No."
When her husband entered a nationwide lottery to travel to the United States, he had less than a one-in-a-million chance of winning. Nivin believed that only an act of God could make them win the lottery, so when the couple learned that they had been selected, she made the painful decision to move her family overseas. Nivin and her husband transitioned to life in the United States with difficulty, working menial jobs despite their rich education and experience.
After five years in the United States, Nivin and her husband have settled into a new life and ministry in Lilburn, Georgia. They now care for other immigrants and refugees who are adjusting to a strange new culture. When she thinks about how much her life has changed since leaving Egypt she says, "It was not easy, but thanks to our church and the Refugee Beads family, life here is getting better."
In 1992, after spending her early childhood in Bhutan, Purna's family had to flee to Nepal to escape violence and economic persecution. They resettled in a UNHCR camp, where they could not work and were not welcomed by the local population.
While living in the refugee camp, Purna's sister, Basanti, fell very ill. She was unable to speak or sleep, and lay on the floor moaning. When the family brought Basanti to the hospital, the illness got worse. Purna's brother, who had become a Christian, suggested that the family turn to Jesus and pray for healing. As Basanti approached death, the family decided to pray in Jesus' name, despite pressure from their Hindu community. As soon as they prayed, Basanti recovered, and the family became believers in Jesus.
In 2001, Purna married another Bhutanese Christian named Santi, and the two had their first two children, Sahil and Susan, in the refugee camp. In 2008, Purna and Santi were selected to relocate to the United States. Purna is still adjusting to the challenges of life in Clarkston, Georgia. Purna enjoys the financial help, spiritual community, and emotional support that Refugee Beads offers. She looks forward to a time when she can move her family into a house, learn to read and write English, and drive a car.
Esther was born to a family of Christian farmers in Burma's Chin State. After twenty-five years of persecution, violence, and oppression, Esther's family hired a human trafficker to help her escape to Malaysia.
In Malaysia, she lived in a small UNHCR refugee camp until she was selected to resettle in the United States. While she enjoyed the movies on the airplane, she found the food too foreign and the idea of flight terrifying, and she did not eat much.
Esther's husband is now an evangelist and pastor who travels around the country teaching and encouraging other Burmese refugees. Esther speaks very little English, but she is grateful for the opportunity to practice her communication while she creates jewelry with the other women of Refugee Beads.
Juli Cop Do
Juli spent her first twenty years in the Chin State in Burma. The government's systematic violence and intimidation plagued the small state.
When she was twenty, Juli's family saved money and pooled resources to hire an "agent" to smuggle her out of Burma. The agent treated her brutally, but she was able to make it to Thailand, where she was promptly caught and thrown in jail. After two months of imprisonment, Juli was deported.
On her second escape attempt, Juli made it to Malaysia, where she was able to find employment in a restaurant. There she met another refugee whom she would end up marrying. The two lived in a refugee camp until they were chosen to move to the United States. Now Juli and her husband live with their daughter Dim Dim, and they are expecting a second child. Her husband works at a chicken factory during the week and, on Sundays, he pastors Domi Lin Zom Christian Fellowship, a fellowship of refugees from Chin State.