South Hills Record – Law Eh can’t wait to have drawing contests with her friends and hang the artwork they sketch on the walls of her new bedroom, which she intends to paint her favorite color: purple.
After living for five years in a two-bedroom apartment in the Residences of South Hills housing complex in Baldwin Borough, the Moo family of five received keys to a two-story, four-bedroom red brick home in Brentwood on Sunday thanks to a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh.
“It’s amazing. I’m going to play with my friends at my house,” said Sar Law Eh, 8.
The Moo family, who immigrated to the United States in 2008 after living in a refugee camp in Thailand, is the 78th partner of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh since the organization began in 1986 and the fifth refugee family to move into a Habitat home in the region.
“Working with them for the last two years, you really get to experience what life can be like outside of the United States and it really makes you appreciate what you have here,” said Daniel Webb, who worked as the family service manager for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh until last month.
Hsar Moo and his wife, Sar Ka Nyaw, natives of Burma, were displaced from their homeland by a civil war between the Karen National Union and Burmese government, and fled to Thailand. He was 12 at the time.
Their three children were born in a refugee camp in Thailand. The family arrived in California in 2008, then came to the Baldwin area in 2010.
Hsar Moo said living in a small apartment was not ideal. The nonprofit South Hills Interfaith Ministries, after seeing the Moo family’s need for greater housing, connected them with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh’s home ownership program.
The family, including Ta Root, 12, Sar Law Eh, 8, and Charles Moo, 5, put in 350 hours of “sweat equity,” or labor, as a down payment on their new home, which Chase Bank donated to Habitat for Humanity in 2012.
They signed an interest-free mortgage and will pay less than $650 a month, said Maggie Withrow, the Greater Pittsburgh Habitat organization executive director.
Lowe’s Home Improvement, as part of the national Women Build sponsorship in May, donated $25,000 toward improvements at the home, which was built in 1927 and was gutted and remodeled.
More than 300 women volunteered to help with renovations. Other companies and organizations made donations and volunteered to help with the improvements.
“It’s your typical American home. I think that’s important, that they can live as Americans in their new country with a home that’s just like everybody else’s,” said volunteer Ted Marstiller.
Hsar Moo said he learned to paint and install walls while helping to renovate his home. He showed off the rooms, and his wife, dressed in her native Karen garb, served fried rice to guests.
“It’s very good for my family to have a home,” Hsar said.