Every once in awhile over the last few years here I mentioned my housemate Odette. I spoke about her soothing voice and how she sang in the kitchen in her native African language. I spoke about how she and Max love each other. I spoke of her wisdom, her sambusa and mandazi I spoke about how my heart broke when she moved out and into a home of her own. But I never told her story here. Her story is hers and hers alone. She was and is simply a sister, as truly family as if she was born my twin and I didn’t feel the need to say more.

So unless you follow Jen Lemen, you might not know that Odette is also a mom. She has been separated from her girls for 4 years. They have been kept apart by two continents, unthinkable bureaucracy, illness and a host of circumstances worth of Kafka. But love and miracles and faith pay off and next week, when the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano finally clears (or a plane that will fly from Africa via a route not impeded by silica can be located) they will land in the US and begin their life as American teenagers, Silver Spring style.

Two years ago we threw a party to raise money to help the girls get here. That money has been spent many times over on this journey, through illness and relocation and schools and tutors and extreme measures that needed to be taken to against all odds get their visas. Jen Lemen is now raising money to pay for the tickets to bring them home. If you are so inclined and can give even $1 or $5 your kindness will go a long way.

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