In 2008, Cara Brookins had just left a husband she describes as "physically violent" and wanted desperately to give her four children a home where they'd each have their own room. Her solution? She began studying home-construction tutorials on YouTube. The computer analyst calculated that she could afford to take out a loan to buy an acre of land and construction materials; all she'd need to do is build the thing herself, reports the Miami Herald. At the time, her kids were 17, 15, 12, and 2, and the army of five—with regular advice from their local Home Depot—rolled up their sleeves and got the job done after work and school. Brookins, author of several books, writes on her website that through all the sweat and tears, "We also rebuilt our broken family."
"We figured out how to lay a foundation block," she tells KTHV. They poured concrete, framed windows and walls, laid bricks, and after nine months their two-story, five-bedroom brick home was complete. The days were so long that “it hurt," Brookins tells CBS News. But, she adds, "There was no plan B." They'd work into the night, "sometimes by headlights," but she says her kids were resilient. "It was the first time they had felt any sort of power," she says. "They knew how much they needed it." And they went from daily "survival mode" to learning, she tells ABC News, "how to take direction from one another, how to laugh." Today, she says, her kids are "fearless." Her book Rise chronicles the project. (New guardians against domestic violence: hairdressers.)