Detroit homeowner culminates 'year of rebuilding'
When LaQuina Johnson's 6-year-old daughter Sakinah was only 3, she told her mom: "When we get our house, we're going to build it."
LaQuina, who currently lives in her own mother's house, thought her little girl had a very active imagination. LaQuina can hardly believe, just three years later, that Sakinah's prophecy is coming true.
"She was my little angel who knew," LaQuina says.
The 31-year-old is recently out of the Army. She served in Bosnia; "I celebrated my 21st birthday there," she shares. LaQuina returned from Iraq just last spring. She admits that she is still haunted by some of the things she has seen in war zones; she does not watch television, she says, and it is easier for her to sleep during the day than at night.
"We lose our humanity," LaQuina says of being surrounded by scenes of war. She says her experiences in both Bosnia and Iraq have made her stop worrying about superficial things. "You have to look into the core of who you are," she says, "and get rid of some of your stupid principles, realize that some people in the world just want to eat."
In evaluating her priorities since she has been home, LaQuina says, "This last year for me has been about rebuilding." Through the Jimmy Carter Work Project, LaQuina is quite literally rebuilding one of Detroit's neighborhoods, while she also rebuilds her life.
LaQuina is also eager to build new relationships with the volunteers who are coming to help her and the other families during the work project. "It makes me so emotional…. To know people buy a plane ticket, out of kinship and love of God, and come here to volunteer—I want to hug everybody!" she says. "And I want to keep in contact with the people who help me, maybe have a pen pal or two. I want them to remember me and to know how much this means."