Chue and her friend, Tong, spent three years in a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to America ten years ago.
They currently live in the second duplex that ACTS has helped Chue purchase. Previously, sharing home ownership with a sister, Chue had lived with her sister’s very large extended family.
Now she and Tong live with Chue’s adult disabled daughter in the lower flat of an inner city duplex, renting out the upper flat for income.
The house had been a vacant, foreclosed property for the past 20 years. ACTS provided a loan to purchase the duplex, a home improvement loan, professional rehab advice, and volunteers for specific projects.
Chue and Tong carefully budgeted the money to buy materials that he used to build a fence around their property and to build a shed for their garden tools and supplies.
Their flat is extremely modest, yet the garden of these two Hmong former farmers is luxuriously verdant. Every inch is meticulously tended and very productive.
With long beans climbing into the trees, and no inch of soil allowed to lay fallow, it is hard to believe that only two years ago their beautiful garden was an overgrown, vacant strip of land often used for illegal dumping.
While it is evident how much work their garden demands, equally evident is the pleasure that it provides. Any food that is not immediately consumed is put up for the winter.
Not only does their new home provide a physical center for gatherings of their own extended family, it has also provided Chue and Tong with a sense of independence and self-sufficiency. As Tong said, the best part of their new home is that “they never have to buy food in the store” any more.