Restoring Dignity Home Makeover #42
Saturday, November 18th, 2023
“Kindness is giving hope to those who think they are all alone in this world.”
Purchase items via the family’s Amazon list here
Donate financially at the bottom of this page
All volunteers being provided by Relevant Community Church
Moo May* remembers three things from her childhood: rice, hunger and flooding. Born the daughter of rice farmers, she watched her parents cultivate the land near their small Karen village in Burma**. “My earliest memory is of the flood,” she recalls. “It flooded a lot and my dad had to go up into the mountains to get bamboo for us to eat. We ate bamboo for a whole year and most days we did not get three meals. We were hungry all the time.” During her earlier years, Moo May went to the local village school and played afterwards with her eight siblings. While punctuated with moments of hunger, she remembers her family making the most of the time.
At 15 years old, the unthinkable happened and life changed abruptly for Moo May. Food scarcity continued to get worse and her parents could no longer feed all of their children. There were two options: to begin starving or to split up as a family. Her parents heard that there was food and boarding houses for children at the Mae Ra Mae refugee camp, on the Thai-Burma border. In a moment of desperation, they made the excruciating decision to send Moo May to the camp alone. Her uncle would accompany her on the journey and she would stay there until the food situation improved in their village. Packing up her few belongings, Moo May experienced profound sadness and grief. “I cried the whole way to the camp,” she says, tears filling her eyes. “I was alone and had no one.” At that moment, her family did not know that the Burmese military would be invading their village in the near future. Or that they’d be forced to flee to a different camp called Mae La. Or that this was the last time that they would be living with Moo May. Future Moo May would see her family in-person one last time in 2014, before she was resettled to the USA.
Upon reaching Mae Ra Mae camp, Moo May was lodged in what she calls “dorms.” “They were rooms for orphaned children and children who had no family with them.” She finished her teenage years in the camp, attended school till Grade 10, and began teaching Burmese and Math to the younger children. “I found that I have a love for learning. Once I learn English and get my citizenship, I want to go back to school and get a job as a supervisor. I think I’d be really good at that.”
During this period, Moo May met a man who would become her first husband. They had three children together in the camp, but unfortunately he turned to drugs and alcohol and became abusive. She had to make the decision to end the marriage, for the safety of her and her children. Time passed and another man came into her life. Things were going very well, they got married, and received news that they had been accepted to come to the USA! One long plane ride later and they found themselves being resettled in America, with opportunity and hope on their shoulders. This was when things would get better, Moo May believed.
Unfortunately, her journey took a different path. After giving birth to their child, Moo May’s husband followed the path she dreaded most. He began doing drugs and drinking alcohol and started physically hurting her. In a moment of grief, Moo May knew she had to take her children and leave before the physical violence got worse. “My youngest child never talked. She was never happy. But she talks all the time now,” she says. “She plays all the time and she is happy.” Even though she struggles financially and carries the burden of raising four children alone, Moo May knows she made the right decision, because her children are doing a lot better emotionally and mentally.
Moo May recently moved to Omaha and is living in a two bedroom apartment with her four children. “I am alone here. I have no family. Everyone is still in refugee camps, so it is hard. There is one woman downstairs who helps me when she can,” she says, pointing her finger down towards the apartment below. Moo May works full-time at a meat packing plant. “Do you see this package of bacon,” she asks, holding up a frozen container from her freezer. “This is what I do. I get the bacon, and then I put it in the plastic and I seal it.” She works second shift and says she enjoys her work, although she would like to go back to school. “I like my job, but what I don’t understand is that if we work fast all day, our manager gets a bonus. We do not get anything. So our manager pushes us, so he can get a bonus. I don’t like that.”
During a healthy home education class, Restoring Dignity’s family educator, Chit Thel Oo, noticed that Moo May and her children were sleeping on the floor and had no furniture. When we came to her apartment to interview her for a home makeover, she had a couch and kitchen table. “I got those from the side of the road. Someone put them there, to be thrown away, and I went and got them,” she explains. We went over our home makeover process, showed her a video from a past event of a single mother who also had four children, and Moo May burst out smiling. “I know the mom in that video! She recently bought a house.”
Moo May’s dream is to buy a house for her children, and she will get there. She is determined, intelligent and full of life. For now, though, her apartment is empty. Her children do not have what they need to truly thrive. On Saturday, November 18th, we are going to change that. We sat down with Moo May and worked together to find items she and her children need and want (see Amazon list below). As a community, we are going to make over this family’s home and create a space of beauty and peace. Moo May has beautiful dreams for her and her children’s lives, and this home makeover will provide a big boost for her family. “I am so happy! I am going to feed all of you when you come,” she says, her smile beaming and her eyes full of hope.
Join us in bringing Moo May and her children hope! You can (1) buy items from Moo May’s Amazon list (2) donate towards her family’s needs, and (3) spread the word to people you know!
Ages and gender of children:
- 3 year old girl (loves playing doctor and playing with any and all toys)
- 8 year old girl (loves playing with Barbies and the color red)
- 10 year old boy (loves baseball, violin and the color black)
- 12 year old boy (loves soccer and the color black)
- Moo May (loves flowers, trees, plants and the colors white, purple and black)
*Name has been changed to protect identity
**While Burma is no longer legally recognized as a country (the name has changed to Myanmar), groups who experienced genocide and war, at the hands of militants, call the country by the name Burma. We refer to Myanmar as Burma, to stand in solidarity with the Karen, Po Karen, Karenni, Chin, Ka-Chin, Rohingya and other ethnic groups who have been forced to flee their home country.
***Less than one percent of refugees are resettled to other countries each year (UNHCR, 2023)
We are taking action on Saturday, November 18th 2023 to provide this family with much-needed household, cleaning and organizational items.
All items needed are on the family’s Amazon list. The family picked out furniture, bedding, household items, pictures and toys that they are hoping to receive!
Note: if you order items on Amazon, forward us your order email so we can send you a BIG thank you and a tax receipt: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to drop off items for the family, you can do so at Relevant Community Church c/o Cory Neslon: 21220 Elkhorn Dr, Elkhorn, NE 68022
**All items must be dropped off by Monday, November 6th, 2023**
If you have questions about this project, please email: email@example.com or call/text: 402-370-9777.
(All volunteers are being graciously provided by Relevant Community Church)
How to Get Involved:
- Donate items:
We could not do these projects without our donors! They are the heart of these projects! All of the items the family has requested can found on their Amazon wishlist. Items will be mailed to Relevant Community Church and we will deliver them to the family the day of the home makeover.
Donate financially at the bottom of this page. If items for the family go unpurchased on their Amazon list, we will use these funds to purchase items. Any remaining funds will be gifted to the family towards rent.
(All volunteers are being graciously provided by Relevant Community Church)
- Spread the word:
Tell your friends and family about this project! Re-post this blog on your Facebook page, or email it to people you know. The more people that know about these projects, the more we receive donations and volunteer sign-ups!
Pictures from the April 2023 RD 41st Home-Makeover:
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