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Your Tewksbury Today

Photo Gallery: Tewksbury Opens Its Arms To Two New Families

Jul 18, 2018 06:37AM ● By Bill Gilman

Lowell Habitat for Humanity and Tewksbury Habitat Build dedicated new homes for the Kato family and Abdulkarim family on South Street recently. (Kayleigh Ann Nagle Photo)

There is nothing quite like the feeling of walking through the doors of the first home you ever purchased - especially when your time, energy and sweat helped to build that house.
That's the feeling experienced by families of Charles Kato and Abdul Karim Kasim, who have recently moved into their new homes at 1057 South St. and 1067 South St. in Tewksbury.
The homes are the second and third collaborative projects for Tewksbury Habitat Build and Lowell Habitat for Humanity.
Last week, officials from both organizations, as well as friends, family, volunteers and representatives of the numerous local companies and organizations that donated resources to the projects, gathered for an official dedication ceremony.
Among the speakers were Brenda Gould, executive director, and Paul Barrett, board president, from Lowell Habitat for Humanity and Bruce Panilaitis, board president for Tewksbury Habitat Build.
Prayers were offered by Rev. Quilin Bouzi of St. William's Church and Rev. Baxter Chism of Tewksbury Congregational Church. The dedication was made by Pastor Thomas Kiessling of International Family Church in North Reading and Imran Nawaz, Islamic Society of Greater Lowell.
But the highlight of the event was the presentation of the house keys and toolboxes to the families by Brenda Gould and Construction Manager Scott Carpenter.
Your Tewksbury Today photographer Kaleigh Ann Nagle attended the event and put together the attached photo gallery.
Below you can learn more about each of Tewksbury's newest families. (Information provided by Lowell Habitat for Humanity.)

The Kato Family

 The Kato family is a family of six; Robinah and Charles and their four young children ages three months, 6, 8 and 10. Originally from Uganda, the Kato’s came to the USA in early 2016 as legal permanent residents. In Uganda, they lived a humble life. Charles worked as a self-employed second hand clothing seller in the capital city of Kampala’s biggest market called Saint Balikuddembe Market. Robinah was a self-employed dealer in African crafts. It was tough making ends meet with a low income and the needs of three young children. It was especially hard keeping the children in school. Desiring a better life, they applied for green cards to obtain the American dream of prosperity and better education for their children. After 3 years, they were granted green cards. To make the journey to the US. They were forced to sell all their belongings to have the money for medication, visas, travel costs and rent in the USA. In February 2016, they finally moved to America as legal permanent residents! 

The Kato’s have not received any Federal resettlement stipends or assistance like many immigrants do. With the help of friends and their church, they found an apartment, found jobs, obtained drivers’ licenses, and enrolled their children in school. They have managed to settle and survive here in the USA on their own and with hard work. They have guidance from their church and people they know. Over the course of 2016, Charles and Robinah, with very little discretionary income and no handouts, have tried their best to make a good life for their family, always looking for better accommodations while still getting acclimated to a new country. Robinah works as a health aide in a group home for handicapped men and Charles works at a local McDonalds. 

With little resources, they could only afford to rent a one bedroom basement apartment in a single family home. The conditions are not healthy. The heating system is in the kitchen, which lacks a stove. They do have a two burner cook top plugged in to an electrical strip. The landlord’s washer and dryer are also located in the kitchen and for a fee the family has access to it. That leaves no room for a table. The heating system is so inadequate the children often wear jackets in the apartment. There is only one cramped room for the family of five to live in. This room has a double bed, a twin bed, and two couches. This is where they eat, sleep, do homework, watch TV, and play. The bathroom has a leaking faucet, a shallow ceiling, and evidence of mildew/mold. All this is not stopping the Kato family from having a positive outlook and their dream of owning a home. In 2017 they applied to Habitat Lowell for a home in Tewksbury. 

When his family was selected, Charles Kato made the following statement - “Guess what, we were selected to be the next partner Habitat family! We are so happy and we know everything is going to change for the better. Our kids are very, very happy and can't wait to relocate to the new home. We believe their performance in school is going to be high because of the conducive environment. We are now confident as parents and hope to have pizza parties in our home. It is one thing to have a family and another to have a ''HOME''. Thank you very much and God bless the kind work of your hands.” 

The Abdulkarim Family

 Meet the Abdulkarim family and their three boys (10, 8,1yr).
Maimunah, is a hardworking mother taking care of her three boys and Abdul Karim Kasim, the father, works for Southwick as a tailor. 

In 1997, Abdul Karim and Maimunah Osman left Burma due to the unrest in the country. They were not treated fairly in their own country and for their religious beliefs. They left Burma and went to Malaysia where they stayed until 2011. On Oct 28, 2011 the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugee sent them to America. 

Starting a new life in America was not easy. However with the help of groups like Saydar Community they adjusted to their new country. 

They currently live in Lowell in a small two bedroom apartment. Their middle son, Ahmad has Spina Bifida and is in a wheelchair. Though the apartment has two bedrooms, one is dedicated to Ahmad and his medical equipment and a special bed. Abdul Karim, Maimunah and the two other boys share the other bedroom. The living area is used as a kitchen, dining area and living space. This room has a door which exits directly onto the sidewalk of a very busy street. The main entrance faces the parking lot and garage. Although this apartment is on the first floor and they are able to maneuver the wheelchair, it is not handicap accessible and the bathroom and shower doorway cannot accommodate the wheelchair. Maimunah has a blow up bathtub which she uses to bath Ahmad. 

There is no green space on their side of the street for the boys to go run and play in so they play in the parking lot. Maimunah said “the place that we are living in now is limited for our children to play. They have to play in the parking spot. Once we move into our new home with a yard, the boys will feel free and safe to play and run around”. 

When they were chosen, the Abdulkarim family released this statement - 


Our family would like to thank "Habitat for Humanity" for giving us the opportunity to be a homeowner in this country and in this life. We are blessed and lucky to have met with "Habitat for Humanity" and work with the organization 


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