Pharos-Tribune

Local News

August 3, 2012

Habitat for Humanity partners with Burmese couple

Logansport family will soon have house of its own

LOGANSPORT — Ever since fleeing Burma’s unstable political climate, Mang Khai has lived in every kind of living space from an unheated house in winter to a two-bedroom apartment he rented for his family.

Now, thanks to the Cass County Habitat for Humanity, Mang Khai, his expectant wife and their toddler will soon move into a house of their own.

The Habitat for Humanity board of directors voted this summer to officially approve Mang Khai’s family as the organization’s most recent partner family. Their house on Miles Street has been undergoing renovations since January.

“The whole purpose is to allow lower-income families that may not qualify for conventional financing to purchase a home at zero interest, to have a lower payment and get into a home,” said Habitat president Kim Reid. “In turn, they help another family by helping on other projects, to keep it going.”

The house is the sixth that Habitat has built or renovated since 1993 in Cass County. The original section of the house is at least 100 years old, judging by its stone foundation, project manager Alan Riendeau has said.

Mang Khai, now 34, emigrated to the U.S. from Burma in 2007 as a refugee. He recalls the exact date of his arrival in Fort Wayne on July 12 that year.

“We are lucky that the United States Homeland Security accepted us to spend the rest of our life here,” Mang Khai said, his thick Burmese accent obscuring his speech.

In January of 2008, he got a job at Logansport’s Tyson Fresh Meats plant as an interpreter. That first winter as an interpreter, he stayed in an unheated house, using a space heater to stay warm overnight and to thaw out the water pipes each morning.

Taxis carried him back and forth from work until he received his driver’s license. Then, he started commuting from Fort Wayne. Mang Khai drove a 16-passenger van filled with other Burmese employees of Tyson for almost two years.

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