Nine-year-old Nicha Thao now has a place for her fruit trees, and a back yard—for her unicorn.
She; her parents, Chula Yang and Mai Kao Thao; her grandmother, La Vang; and her two younger siblings are the proud and grateful owners of anew LEED-certified house on 36th Street in Sacramento. Built in partnership with Sacramento Habitat for Humanity and sponsored by JP Morgan Chase, the Thao-Vang family accepted the keys to their safe and affordable home on Saturday, February 16.
Chula Yang and Mai Kao Thao migrated to the United States from Thailand in November 2004, hoping for a better life. “In Thailand,” Says Mai Kao:
There is no way to better your life. No way to get work. We moved here to give our children a future.
The Thao-Yangs first settled in Georgia, where they had relatives. Mai Kao recalls:
I felt we must have made a mistake. We were in more poverty here than in Thailand. I thought, how can I find a job and support my family if I don’t know the language? It was difficult.
In February of 2006, after hearing of potential opportunities in the Hmong community here, Chula and Mai Kao took a leap of faith and crossed the country to Sacramento. Chula was able to find employment working for a publishing company and Mai Kao at Unitron, but living in a two-bedroom apartment with their three children and Chula’s mother was proving stressful. They longed to be able to move into a home of their own.
Chula and Mai Kao learned about Sac-Habitat and the chance to work toward their own home through a relative who had attended the family orientation. Mai Kao remembers:
Back in Thailand, you can’t own property. You aren’t allowed to own a home—you’re assigned a piece of land and that’s where you live; there’s no way you can change it. The houses aren’t well-built, they have dirt floors, and you can see through the walls to the outside.
They applied and were quickly accepted.
Mai Kao, Chula, and Chula’s mother La Vang worked together to complete their required “down payment,” 500 hours of “sweat equity—laboring as volunteers on their and other families’ homes. Mai Kao admitted that it was “hard work”, but they all enjoyed working alongside each other and other volunteers.
As for how the kids feel, Mao Kao could only grin:
My oldest daughter Nicha, was upset that she couldn’t help build the house, too. When I asked why she was so upset, she said she wanted to tell the construction crew about all her plans for the house—fruit trees and a really big backyard for a unicorn.
(You can see a ahort video of the Thao-Yang family dedication on my Facebook page.)
As a writer of fiction, I believe that the best stories happen all around us—waiting to be told: Real people, with real hopes, dreams, and challenges.
As a former member of the Board of Directors and volunteer for Sacramento’s chapter, I believe in Habitat for Humanity. Simply stated, Sac-Habitat improves our community, one family at a time. I’m promoting my first short story collection, Matters Familiar. I thought, Why not help a family in need in a meaningful, lasting way at the same time?
MY PLEDGE: For every eBook or paperback copy of “Matters Familiar” sold, I’ll donate $1 to Sacramento Habitat for Humanity, for a new home for a qualifying family. (For every individual e-story sold, I’ll donate 10 cents of the 99-cent purchase price.)
MY GOAL: To raise $75,000 to sponsor a complete build in 2013, on behalf of “Fans of E. G. Fabricant.”
Won’t you join me? Click here.—EGF