Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Displaced family finds a new home

Ariak Mawien lost everything she had in a electrical fire that burnt her mobile home down in June. "It's okay," she said. "If my kids are safe, it's okay (that the house burnt down)." Without a home, the 12 person family has spent the last month in...

Ariak Mawien and her family, including son Benjamin Benjamin, were displaced when their Rochester mobile home was destroyed in a June fire. Wamien and ten of her 11 children moved into a four-bedroom Rochester home July 10. Mawien is grateful her children all survived the blaze.

Ariak Mawien and her family lost everything they had in an electrical fire that burned down their mobile home in southeast Rochester in June.

"It's OK," she said. "If my kids are safe, it's OK."

On June 4, Mawien was at work when her home caught on fire — her family was asleep inside. Luckily, Ariak's daughter, Abok, woke up, saw the smoke and woke her siblings up. Everyone was able to get out safely, but the house couldn't be saved.

"(Ariak) was holding it together pretty well (when she arrived)" said Chris Beighley, property manager at the Oak Terrace and Parkside Mobile Home Park. "and I went over and gave her a hug and said, 'everybody's out,' and she just bawled."

Larry Mueller, assistant fire marshal for the Rochester Fire Department, a responder at the scene said, "The family is very, very fortunate that they even woke up. There were no working smoke detectors in the house."


After the fire, the 12-member family spent the last month in hotels, but now, they have a place to live. Through insurance, Mawien was able to put a down payment on a four-bedroom house last weekend, and the family recently moved in.

"It was pretty frustrating for a while because it's hard to find housing big enough and suitable enough for such a large family," said Jeff Urban, the outreach pastor for Bear Creek Christian Church. "It highlights the issue of affordable housing, especially for families with limited funds."

Urban had been working with the family before the fire to find more suitable housing for them. They had trouble finding housing because apartment renters wouldn't accept such a big family and rental homes were too expensive.

Working at Global Home Health Care, Marwien is the only source of income for her family. She cares for 10 of her 11 children, who range in ages from eight months to 22 years — her 11th child doesn't live with her.

After the fire, Urban set up a donation account for the family as part of Bear Creek's Housing Rehab and Replacement Fund. "We've had such a great response from the community," Urban said. The campaign raised just over $5,000, which will be used to help clean and repair the house. It needs new flooring and a new water heater.

Besides monetary donations, the Mawien's also received furniture and other donations. Urban said that a real estate agent who stages houses donated the furniture she used, giving the family a brand new couch, love seat and dining room table and chairs. "Things have worked out really well," Urban said.

"A lot of people helped me out a lot; I'd like to thank them." Mawien said. "Without them I couldn't have found a house. They helped me find a place to live with my children."


What To Read Next
Get Local