By Henry Kim and Diego Duarte
Year over year, the world strains under a growing problem: refugees, displaced from their home countries in ever-increasing numbers. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-2021 resulted in that number increasing exponentially. Meanwhile, John Houston, the woodshop teacher for Christian High was having a hard time finding a meaningful project that would help his Woodshop 4 students develop and practice their skills. Senior Kai Damata and juniors Nolan Johnson, Kona Strong, Travis Billie, and Garrett Thompson are, according to Houston, “very gifted and dedicated to the subject.”
While searching for the perfect project, Houston discovered a website for refugees and was astonished by the number of people who were in need. What he found was that these people have a specific need for sturdy furniture because their previous lifestyle had been extremely nomadic as they were constantly moving. Houston realized that this opportunity would help his talented students expand their woodworking skills, while also learning the importance of serving others.
Houston said the current cost of timber needed to build one of these projects runs about two hundred to three hundred dollars; meaning that the whole project costs at least a thousand dollars. Additionally, the materials require careful handling. All the measurements need to be exact, so that every joint fits perfectly, resulting in items that are strong and reliable. Houston said, “If the joints do not fit correctly, the students would need to modify the whole project, meaning more tedious work.” While the project is challenging, Houston hopes to inspire his students to continue to help those in need using the skills they’ve developed in woodshop.
With an aim toward serving with excellence, these CHS students are meeting the real needs of real people and offering something that a refugee may not have felt in years: a sense of home.