Hello, my name is Charla Burnett!
I was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan.
I was a first generation college graduate and my focus was on supporting refugees and migrants!
Did you know Lansing is a relocation site for refugees and Michigan is home to 50,000 refugees and asylees? I didn’t either until I started volunteering at the Refugee Development Center . For several years, I worked in refugee camps in countries throughout Africa and the Middle East. Through these experiences, I became very close, like family, with people from many different nations, kingdoms, and tribes.
In 2019, I returned to Lansing, Michigan to have my son, Atom. He’s my whole world.
In the face of climate change and a pandemic, it’s hard for him to experience the love, generosity, and perseverance of our stateless family abroad. I want him to see the world through my eyes. Lansing is missing out on these important experiences and lessons too. It makes me really sad. 🙁
Since 2015, I’ve watched in horror as our community lost touch with our roots. Our nation has been embracing hate, nationalism, and xenophobia. We need a place to learn about the foreign and embrace in our similarities, our unity. As a result, I’m opening the Umoja House on the Eastside of Lansing.
The Umoja House
In 2018-19, Michigan State University hosted 7,052 international students on campus. No. 9 nationally and No. 1 among public institutions for study abroad, according to 2020 U.S. News & World Report rankings. The Umoja House is an international student and migrant home and community space in Lansing, Michigan comprising of 3 houses on a single block, 7 fully furnished rooms, and 5 communal indoor and outdoor areas. The Umoja House is home to 5 chickens and 1 beautiful dog; a black lab/shepherd named Bella. Monthly public multi-cultural potluck, reading groups, and outdoor international film screenings bring out the full appreciation and unity of our global community.
THE UMOJA TEAM NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
Two of the three Umoja houses are in disrepair and will need full updates, including roofs, windows, paint jobs, and furnaces. We have secured discount rates for items and labor but are in need of additional support.
We are asking our friends and community to help us raise $15,000 to help get these homes livable and welcoming.
Please email [email redacted]se for all inquiries. We are also taking the additional support of clean queen sized mattresses, sofas, dining tables and chairs, dining utensils, desks, and school supplies.
Facts and more information about the status of refugees by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR): https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html .