Sameral Taw spent more than two decades in a refugee camp.
Now she has a home to call her own.
Taw and her family were one of four in the region, two on Mary Street in Thunder Bay, to receive a new house courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, as they held a formal dedication at her new residence on Monday.
Taw was born in the former Burma and spent 21 years in a Thai refugee camp, but now has a safe new home on Mary Street for her and her four sons.
“It’s wonderful to get a new house. Everybody needs a home and a place to live,” she said
“This is my new life and new place for me.”
It is stories such as Taw’s that makes all the work required for the annual projects worth it for Habitat for Humanity Thunder Bay CEO Diane Mitchell.
To see the look on the family’s faces and talk to the kids and see they’re expression to own a home and have a bedroom and have a place to study, play, and be safe is amazing and it tears me up every time when I think about what the need was and where they’ve come from and where they’re going to,” Mitchell said.
“It makes all the asking for money to build these houses worthwhile because we have made a difference in that family’s life.”
In addition to the two Thunder Bay homes, two Habitat homes in Marathon were officially dedicated on Monday, which coincided with World Habitat Day.
The Marathon homes are the local organization’s first foray into the region. Habitat for Humanity Canada COO Mark Rodgers said the expansion is part of a national strategy to extend their reach into smaller municipalities where there is also a need for assistance.
“What I saw in Marathon was the spirit and compassion the community had for those two families,” Rodgers said. “I love that Habitat for Humanity Thunder Bay is moving beyond the city borders, and moving into the small communities that are also in need of affordable housing.”
For Taw, the new house and neighbourhood give her safety and peace of mind that she has been desperately seeking.
She said her previous arrangements were in an area that made her fear for the protection of her children, and that everybody in the house went straight to work or school from home and back, and did not remain outside in the neighbourhood.
Another bright side is that Taw and her family will have a familiar neighbour down the street, as a close friend of hers was selected to receive the other Habitat house that was dedicated in the city.
The friendship dates back to their time in the refugee camp, and they have also lived as neighbours in Thunder Bay.
“When we got the house we were so happy, and we’re close friends so we have a chance to live close to each other,” Taw said. “We can help each other, and we know each other so well.”
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