A Virginia family of six took in a family of 13 after a fire made their home uninhabitable last week.
The Muhanyis’ Fairfax, Virginia, home was damaged by fire and smoke.
“I screamed a lot, ‘It’s a fire, fire, fire … get out, get out!’” said Alphonsine Bitorw.
Her quick actions woke her husband and their 11 kids. The electrical fire left their belongings charred but spared their lives. The family was renting the home and did not have renter’s insurance.
“I thank God everybody got out of the house and everybody’s safe,” said the couple’s eldest son, 19-year-old Raymond Muhanyi.
But it’s a struggle for their father, Pastory Muhanyi, to stay hopeful.
“I try to be positive, but I’m going through a very difficult time right now,” he said.
But that difficult time is being filled with the generosity of others.
“In the middle of their tragedy, there is joy …,” Mitzi Carlin said.
A Marine Corps family living in Annandale, Virginia, Mitzi and her husband, Curtis, are proud of their dedication to God and country.
The Carlins have four kids. Their youngest, Nick, goes to the same school as some of the Muhanyi kids, but that’s about all they knew of each other. St. Ambrose Catholic School principal Barbara Dalmut told the community about the Muhanyis’ struggles.
"Our real goal is for them to have a vehicle that the whole family can get together and be transported,” Dalmut said.
The Carlins offered more than that.
“I didn’t really talk to my wife at that point … and I just said, ‘We got room! Why don’t you come over and look? And if you feel comfortable, we’d love to have you in our house,’” Curtis Carlin said.
That means a bigger carpool and a much fuller house.
“I guess I wasn’t thinking with my head,” Mitzi said. “I was thinking with my heart.”
Pastory Muhanyi said he’s “really thankful, really thankful.”
Ad for Curtis life at home is not all that different from his many deployments with the Marines.
“The one thing that I do know is that we never leave anybody behind on the battlefield,” he said. “Marines take care of their own. What I’ve learned in those 22 years isn’t different when I’m here and in my community and in my church. We take care of our own.”
If you want to help the family out, friends have set up an online fund.