No Room at the Inn

International Samaritan has partnered with Detroit street artist Chazz Miller to bring you “No Room at the Inn”, a nativity interpretation based off of Luke 2:7:

She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the places where International Samaritan serves, “no room at the inn” has a much deeper meaning: International Samaritan works hand in hand with families living in garbage dump communities around the world to help them break out of extreme poverty, for them viable housing is a scarce resource. These families live in communities of small, one-room homes made out of discarded materials, often with six or more people in each home. We have created three life-sized replicas of these homes for you to walk through. At the end of the row of houses, artist Chazz Miller has created a nativity made out of the kinds of discarded materials that families living off of the world’s garbage dumps rely upon for survival. Click on the images to the right to see more.


The installation has been received well, covered by both the Detroit News and MLive:

The Detroit News | Nativity scene made of trash makes a point about poverty

MLiveNativity made from trash conveys message on poverty, garbage dumps

How long will the Installation be Up?

It will be up until Jan. 5, 2020, the week of Three Kings Day and the Eastern Orthodox Christmas. Feel free to stop by the office and walk through!

The Nativity

International Samaritan commissioned Detroit street artist Chazz Miller to create the nativity for ‘No Room at the Inn’. The life-size Nativity scene is the first of its kind, being made entirely of garbage and recyclables. In total, Miller created: the holy family, an angel, a shepherd, the three wise men, a collection of animals, and a star for the exhibit. Miller said the project took about four months of research, material collection and creation. Much of the trash came from his garage. The top materials used were plastic, paper and Styrofoam.

Using all recycled and discarded materials meant really getting creative with how he did his designs: Miller used Styrofoam and plastic bottles to create the bodies and shredded paper for the faces. Each figure’s face features biblical passages related to their role in Jesus’s birth. Baby Jesus has different illustrations of him depicted on his face. The North Star is made of recycled water bottles. The animals were made in a variety of ways – for example, his sheep was created around the base of a 2 liter soda, and his pig was made using an old jug of bleach as a base.

About chazz

Charles “Chazz” Miller is an American street art muralist from Detroit, Michigan. He is the founder of both Detroit’s Artist Village and Detroit Public Art Workz (PAWZ).


Connecting to the Nativity and wrapping around the International Samaritan home office, in-house artist Hannah Wickham built three to-scale models of the homes that International Samaritan’s scholars live in. 

“We built these as part of the exhibit because it brings a whole new meaning to ‘no room at the inn’,” Wickham said, explaining the decision, “What people don’t fathom is that there can be anywhere between five to ten – or sometimes more – people living inside a one-room home that’s only six to eight feet wide. Sometimes nearly the entire house is taken up by a single mattress. There’s no real plumbing, there’s limited electricity… conditions here are extremely difficult to survive in, let alone live a normal life in. How do do your homework when it’s raining and your roof is leaking onto your schoolbooks? How do you go to school rested when you have to sleep in a house that animals get into because you have a tarp instead of a front door?”

The houses were built based off of photos and interviews taken by Wickham and other International Samaritan staff members during their travels abroad. Each home is also based off of the home of an actual individual served by International Samaritan, and the story of that person accompanies each house. The houses are primarily built out of donated or recycled materials, including materials donated from the communities that each home is representing.

Process Photos

You can change the lives of students living in situations like these by donating to International Samaritan’s scholarship program. Our scholarships help pay for more than just school – they also go toward improving our scholars living conditions so they can remain in school by helping cover their food, clothing, and housing expenses.

About Us

International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.

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