The Soe/Wah/Gwae Family

When Hero Soe and Bleh Paw Wah arrived in America about four years ago, they thought their troubles would be over. After escaping violence and refugee camps in Thailand, the family settled in Portland. And while nowhere near as difficult as their lives were in Burma and Thailand, finding an affordable home that could accommodate a growing multi-generational household has kept them from feeling truly secure.

“When we were in Burma, our challenges were about our safety and living situation,” said Hero. “My village was burned by Burmese soldiers. Many times we had to run for our lives, living in the jungle, under the trees or in a temporary hut with no food to eat.” But while thankfully much safer in Portland, the family still faces adversity in their housing situation. They share a two bedroom apartment in East Portland with Hero’s mother Lae. “We are so blessed to come to the U.S.  but my mother-in-law is disabled and it’s difficult for her to go up stairs,” said Bleh Paw. Along with Hero’s mother, the couple has their two-year-old son Yeeh, as well as a newborn baby. Hero’s assembly job simply can’t afford the family the space they need; the five of them share a small apartment with inadequate ventilation, faulty appliances and fixtures, and disruptive neighbors.

Hero and Bleh will purchase and help build their own home at Glisan Gardens, moving in when construction is completed in 2016. Their new home will be accessible to accommodate Lae’s disability, with plenty of room for Yeeh and the newborn to thrive as they grow up. “When I think of our future home, I picture my family happy, full of smiles. I’ll get to decorate my house, plant flowers, have a playroom for my children, and much more!” says Bleh. “The new home will provide more opportunities for my children to learn. We feel so blessed this home will belong to us.”