Gifts from strangers and a second reunion lead to a new life in America for Sudanese family

Published: Monday, Sept. 9 2013 7:45 a.m. MDT

"A month later, her two boys showed up at my doors with these jars full of coins. It was obviously money they had been saving for something else," Ostermann said.

On Friday night, Gama's emotions vacillated between joy and the weight of responsibility of feeding and housing 10 people. Presently, she is the only adult in the household who has a job. Although her older daughters are eligible to work, a clerical error on one of the daughter's documents likely cannot be rectified for six months, which means she can't seek a job.

"It means a person who is willing and able to get a job can't. It's totally frustrating," Ostermann said. "Coming to a county to make a better life, it's not easy."

Ostermann said it is unclear where the family of 10 will reside. Gama has a two-bedroom apartment but she really needs a house where the family can live together.

Because Gama is the only family member presently employed — she showed up for work as scheduled Saturday morning — she's worried about taking on more than she can handle financially.

"She has a lot of integrity. She does not want to take on something she can't do," Ostermann said.

Ostermann said the immediate plan is to allow the family to rest from their journey, make temporary housing arrangements, help enroll the newly arrived children in school and obtain work permits for the adults so they can seek jobs.

The online fundraising website Sudan to Utah, will remain up for the time being, Ostermann said. "Any gift from today forward will go into the hands of this family to help with rent for a bigger place, winter clothes, groceries, etc," the website states.

How you can help: : A fundraiser for Bridges to America, which provided airfare for the second wave of Gama's family reunion, will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at Alex and Ani in City Creek Center. Fifteen percent of sales during the three-hour event will benefit Bridges To America. Members of Gama's family plan to attend.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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