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LDS congregation in Salt Lake City gives home of refugee family a surprise makeover

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Posted at 5:33 PM, Nov 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-08 19:34:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY – A family of refugees currently living in Utah recently got a home makeover thanks to the efforts of members of a local congregation of the LDS Church.

The Byinke family is from the Republic of Burundi, a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, and they recently were surprised with a series of improvements to their home in Utah.

About 100 people spent about 48 hours working on the project.

"This house definitely has some challenges, it's very tiny,” Project Coordinator Deb Coffey said of their work.

Armed with paint brushes and tools, members of the Fox Hollow Ward of the LDS Church rebuilt a Salt Lake City home for the family.

"Ripped out all the flooring, the carpet, took down the bathroom, reinstalled the sinks, the tubs, painted everything,” volunteer Hyrum Summers said.

The crew had to work fast in order to keep the reveal a surprise. Cosette Biynke and her two children spent two days in a hotel while they waited.

"I really like to say thank you for everything they have done for me,” she said when the work was finished.

There were tears of joy as the family explored the improvements.

Through the Granite Education Foundation, members of the Fox Hollow Ward found Cosette, who is a refugee from Burundi in need of a little help.

"I hope it can let her know that we love her and that we are her friends,” Summers said.

Time, materials and even appliances were donated to the cause. Coffey said the opportunity was valuable for them as volunteers.

"When they watch you give and donate your time through service, your family is so much more likely to get engaged and do that as well,” she said.

The family said the work is a dream that has come true earlier than expected.

"This was my dream, but I didn't know when I can make it come true,” Biynke said.

The members of the Fox Hollow Ward carried out the project with the help of the Utah Refugee Center and LDS Humanitarian Services.