Summary: Matt is working diligently to build his new home. By doing so, he hopes to inspire his children about the future.
When the Camp Fire set ablaze in Northern California, Matt Oaklur and his family fled to San Jose, hoping to find help and start a new life. However things didn’t go as planned. Due to hindering circumstances, they were forced to return to their destroyed town of Chico–now a city in ashes.
One day Matt decided to visit the Disaster Relief Center to seek assistance. Matt, who grew up in San Jose and had previously donated to Tzu Chi, recognized the Tzu Chi badge upon his arrival.
Thanks to help from Tzu Chi volunteers, Matt was happy and relieved to find a custodial job in the Post-Disaster School Reconstruction Program in Chico City. Now he is able to contribute to his community and help rebuild the school, while simultaneously save up for the reconstruction of his own home.
Matt has three children, an 8-year-old daughter and two 3-year-old sons. After the fire destroyed their beloved home, they were forced to move into a trailer. A volunteer asked if it is cold at night. “[It’s] not a big deal,” Matt replied. “We have blankets, and the [Tzu Chi] gift card is enough to buy gas and food.”
Gas is of vital importance for Matt and his family. The trailer doesn’t have enough space to store groceries, so he has to drive to the store more frequently to ensure the family has sufficient food to eat.
“I want to go home!” Matt explains what his children say to him often, his eyes full of helplessness. His children don’t want toys; they want to go back to their own home. Matt is unable to give them that. The only thing he can do is hold them in his arms, and assure them that their Dad is working hard to provide them with a new home. Through his hard work and dedication, and support from his Tzu Chi family, Matt intends to bring hope to his children, and provide them with a safe, new home.