Restoring Dignity Home Makeover #35

Saturday, November 16th, 2019


“The more we share, the more we have.”

-Leonard Nimoy

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Their Story

Five years ago, a Karen family of five came to the United States after living in a refugee camp in Thailand for almost a decade. Both parents married later in life, after they had met in the camp. Prior to the camp, both had lived full lives. For the father of the family, life was just as he wanted it to be for 47 years. He grew up in a small village in the jungles of Burma, learned how to farm, and eventually became a carpenter. He met a beautiful young woman, they married, and she gave birth to their seven children. Together they raised their family and were looking forward to grandchildren. However, during the year that he turned 47, everything in their village went dark. The civil war reached their home and Burmese soldiers gunned down anyone they could see. Panicked, both parents grabbed their children and fled into the jungles, trying to make sense of what had just unfolded in their lives. With the Burmese army close behind, they ran and ran, hoping to find a safe place to rest. They heard through others that many people were fleeing to Thailand, so they set course towards the Burma-Thai border.  As they trekked through unfamiliar territory, the mother of the family got sick and started coughing up blood. With no access to medical care, she quickly declined and passed away. Bewildered and struck with grief, the father lost consciousness and says to this day, “I died after seeing her die. If it wasn’t for my children, I wouldn’t be alive.” One of his older children was able to bring him back to consciousness, and they continued to flee, until they reached a refugee camp in Thailand. For years, the father grieved the loss of his wife and the life they once shared. His children, now adults, became worried for him and told him he had to remarry, to hopefully spark some joy in him. He reluctantly agreed, and they found him a lovely woman, who had experienced her own share of heartache as well. They married and gave birth to four beautiful children: two boys and two girls. In the midst of starting life over, the family found out they had been selected to be resettled in America. Leaving meant hope for a better life. But leaving also meant more heartache, as three of his adult children had not been chosen to be resettled, and would continue living in the refugee camp. With half hope and half heaviness, they decided to try their luck at a brighter future. They boarded the plane in Thailand and landed in Omaha, Nebraska on October 1st, 2014. They were placed in a two bedroom apartment, close to where many other Karen families lived, and they started the process of assimilating to life in America as refugees: 90 days of casework and support and then they would be on their own. Finding a job wasn’t easy for either parent. Both tried meat packing, but the father’s physical condition prohibited him from standing for long periods of time or from walking far. He was bit by a venomous snake while living in the refugee camp in Thailand, and the bite had permanently damaged the nerves in both legs, making it excruciatingly painful to walk and stand. His wife also struggled with the physical demands of meat packing, as her bones suffered from a painful condition of what her husband calls “bone softness.” Neither parent had ever been to school a day in their life, and neither was literate in their own language — all these became barriers to assimilating well in American society and learning English. As a result of having very limited income and living well below the poverty line, the family has been unable to afford basic home items, like beds, sheets, pillows, dressers, lamps, a couch. Each day has been a task of survival since arriving in Omaha in 2014. After five years of barely making ends meet, and sometimes not being able to make ends meet, the father has given up hope. He wants to move back to the refugee camp, back to his familiar environment, back to be with his adult children. But he knows he has his children here, and he cannot leave until they are grown. Restoring Dignity found out about this family’s situation, met with them, and discussed doing a home-makeover, to bring them the items they need for their apartment. They graciously accepted and are looking forward to meeting the many volunteers who will be coming to serve them. Join us as we aim to bring hope back to this family.

The Pictures

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The Solution We are taking action on Saturday, November 16th, 2019 from 10am-2pm to provide this family with much-needed household, cleaning and organizational items.

Supplies Needed

Please sign-up for items you will donate on our donation sign-up page.

Donation Drop-Off: Items for this family can be dropped off at: Relevant Church 21220 Elkhorn Dr  Elkhorn, NE 68022 Monday-Thursday 9:00am-5:00pm *For LARGER items (couch, beds, dressers, etc.) please email Cory Nelson and he will setup a time and location to drop off the items: * **All items need to be dropped off by Thursday, November 7th, 2019** **Please note that there will not be any pick-ups for this project.**

Volunteers Needed

Relevant Church is providing all volunteers for this project. 
  • Saturday, November 16th, 2019
    • Transportation: 8am-10am: This shift involves loading items onto trucks at the storage unit, and unloading them at the family’s home. We will provide a U-Haul truck. 
    • Shift one: 10am-12pmThis shift is for people who want to help with cleaning, organizing clothes, steaming and fixing items.
    • Shift two: 12pm-2pmThis shift is for people who want to help with bringing items into the apartment, setting it up and decorating. 
    • Full Day: 10am-2pmThis shift is for someone who is looking for a full-immersion with Restoring Dignity and/or wants to be a project leader.
    • Handyperson shiftsThis shift is for a person who is skilled with tools, can help fix broken items in the home, can assemble beds and other furniture, and can hang pictures.

How to Get Involved:

  • Donate items:
We could not do these projects without our donors! They are the heart of these projects! Please let us know what you can donate, and we will take the items off of the list above. If someone would like to “adopt” a member of this family or a room in the apartment, by fulfilling the donations needed for that area, let us know. Otherwise, if you have any items in your house that you no longer need or use, please consider donating them to these projects. Your donations truly do make a direct impact on families in need. To donate items to this family, visit our donation sign up page.
  • Donate financially
As Restoring Dignity has grown so have our basic operating expenses. We now have our own storage facility where we accept, sort and store all of our donations. We pay monthly rent and utilities and are dependent on the financial contributions that we receive. If you are interested in making a financial contribution, please click here.
  • Spread the word:
Tell your friends and family about this project! They might have an extra lamp or a dresser that is no longer in use. 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 donations and volunteers. Pictures from the September 2019 RD Home-Makeover:Follow us on Facebook: Restoring Dignity has a Facebook Group that is regularly updated. Please join our group: Restoring Dignity Omaha Facebook Group. Contact us: (c) 402-305-8139