52ºF

Local refugee sends supplies back to family in Liberia

Priscilla Karnwie filled shipping container with furniture, clothing for family.

ROANOKE, Va. – A local refugee from Liberia is giving back to her home country. 

It's moving day at Priscilla Karnwie's house. The mattresses and the minivan are taking quite the trip, thousands of miles over land and sea. Their destination is Liberia, Priscilla's former home, a home she had to flee when war broke out in the 1990s.

"We were escaping and my husband was killed and I lost some of my children. But I was able to go to the Ivory Coast," said Priscilla.

Priscilla and her four children came to in Roanoke in the early 2000s. In 2013, she ventured back to her village in Africa. She was shocked to see the way her brother and extended family were living.

"We stayed there, we slept on the floor because it was a just little place. So when I came back, I started collecting mattresses, I saw beautiful mattresses always on the street," said Priscilla. 

Since 2013, Priscilla has been on the lookout for mattresses, furniture, toys--anything she could find that would help her far-away family feel more at home.

"I want to help. You know the condition they were in. So they can have a bed to sleep on, the kids can have something to play with. They can have shoes and clothes," said Priscilla. 

The container holding nearly 60 mattresses, a minivan, and TVs will cost Priscilla about $7,000 to ship. She's covering that by working two jobs and saving every penny, a woman sending her love many miles away, no matter the cost.

"I am overjoyed. I don't even know how to explain it. Yesterday, I told my friends at work and I was dancing," said Priscilla. 

In about a month, Priscilla will fly to Africa to be with her family when the shipping container arrives.