Gila Farm Cooperative

Our farmers come from all over the world, as the map above shows. Below, you can read about our three featured refugee farmers.


Hussein Alhamka from Iraq

Hussein, a father of two boys and nine girls, has been in the US since 2009. He raises many of the same crops in Arizona as he did back home in Iraq, including several vegetables, melons, and wheat.

When he arrived in the US, Hussein was fascinated by the agricultural technologies available to small farmers, such as mechanical seed planters and transplanters. His favorite part of living the US is that he hasn’t faced discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or color. Though Iraq is currently in a state of turmoil, he has fond memories of his childhood and his country. He hopes to find a peaceful life with his children in the US.


Sian Liam Tluangneh from Burma

Sian came to the US with his wife and three children in 2010. Back home Sian grew crops and raised animals as diverse as buffalo, cows, pigs, and fish. There were no tractors or irrigation systems on his 5-acre farm, just many hands and an ethic of hard work.

His family’s ethnicity, Chin, constitutes one of the large minority groups in Burma. As the Burmese regime became more oppressive and widespread human rights violations increased, each year Sian and his family were worse off. They fled to Malaysia in 2003, where Sian earned a living a farmer for seven years, until the family was resettled in Arizona.

Sian greatly appreciates the way the US government looks after and protects the rights of all its people. He’s grateful that the US supports refugees and people who face hardships. One day, Sian wants to own a large plot of land where his whole family can work together.


Fatuma Mahat from Somalia (pictured left)

Fatuma is from Jilib, a town in Somalia. She is married and has four children: three are in the US, and one remains in Africa. In Jilib, she grew coconut, papaya, mango, corn, and many other crops on 37 acres of farmland.

Her favorite Arizona crop is lettuce, which she uses to make rice salads. Some of the things she greatly enjoys about the US are higher standards of living, free education for her kids, and the rights she has as a woman. She now drives a car: as a woman, this was not allowed back home. In 2011, Fatuma’s husband became a US citizen, and she looks forward to the day when she will become one too. Though Fatuma is adjusting well to life in the US, she dearly misses her house and farm in Jilib.