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3 min read

The Moment I Decided to Live Life

The Moment I Decided to Live Life

“I’m going to find a place for my kids.”

That’s what Carroll’s dad said whenever someone asked him why he was moving his family from Togo to the United States. To find a place for my kids. It was July 2004 when they moved into an apartment in Minneapolis. Carroll was seven at the time, and her twin siblings were four. They were just starting to adjust when their world was turned upside down again a year later—Carroll’s dad passed away.

“It left all of us devastated,” Carroll shares. “It left my mom in an alien land.. . . Looking back now as a mom, I’m like oh my goodness—I don’t know how my mom handled that, but she did.”

Carroll had been so close to her dad, and the loss took a big toll on her. This new place just didn’t feel like home without him. She started struggling with anxiety and depression and didn’t know how to find support. But a memory of her dad lighted the way forward.

“It was my first day of school in the US,” Carroll remembers. "I remember him walking me to the bus stop, and he said that some Americans view people of color as not worthy or unequal. And you know what? Education is the one way that we can prove that you are. So do your best, try your hardest. And when you do that, the opportunities will be there, the doors will open, and you can do whatever you want in life.”

That memory sparked a fire within Carroll to dive into her education. To make her dad proud. She fell in love with writing, especially poetry. She even got a couple of poems published.

“Honestly, poetry was the only way I got through all my struggles and challenges.”

She went to college and studied psychology to make sense of her own mental health challenges and to help others. During college, she had her daughter, Alexandria.

“After having my daughter my mental health was at an all-time low,” Carroll remembers. “I often felt defeated. But I knew only I was responsible for my own happiness and for my future. That is the moment I decided to live life and invest in my daughter’s and my future by becoming a homeowner.

Carroll and daughter read a book together
Carroll and her daughter Alexandria read a book together. A photo of Carroll's dad has pride of place behind them.

Carroll was motivated to find a stable, happy home for her daughter—just like her dad had done for her. She wanted a yard where Alexandria could play. She wanted to measure her daughter’s height on the wall year after year. She wanted Alexandria to grow up and bring her children back someday and say “This is where I grew up!”

Carroll poured everything into her homeownership journey. She saved as much as she could and spent a lot of time researching homeownership, all while finishing her degree, working part-time, and being a new mom.

Carroll knew about Habitat for Humanity through her friend Adade, who is a real estate agent and had previously worked as a Homeownership Advisor with Habitat. With Adade as her Realtor, Carroll fell in love with a Habitat-developed home in Apple Valley. In June 2023, she closed on her home and moved in.

“It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that it really set in. My mom and siblings came to drop some things off with me. And when they left, I just broke down crying on the stairs . . . It was just a realization of leaving my childhood home with my mom and siblings and being on my own . . . but also realizing I’m not really on my own. I have Bahati with me, I have my family nearby.”

Carrolls family on the floor
From left to right: Carroll, Carroll's daughter Alexandria, and Carroll's boyfriend Bahati

In just a few short months, Carroll and Bahati have been hard at work making this house into a home. Bahati already built a pergola and updated the kitchen cabinets. They decorated Alexandria’s room in pink, her favorite color, with LED lights lining the walls. And they have big plans to finish their basement, add a bathroom, and create an exercise space where Carroll and Bahati can work out and Alexandria can dance and practice gymnastics.

The future looks brighter every day for Carroll’s family. She recently started a master’s program, Bahati is working a new job, and Alexandria just started kindergarten.

Shortly after buying her home, Carroll traveled back to Togo to visit family and brought Alexandria with her for the first time. Alexandria loved playing with all her cousins, and Carroll loved returning to the home she knew at her daughter’s age—her Grandma’s home.

“I remember all the memories I used to have there,” Carroll smiles. “I remember playing. I remember riding my bike here and falling over there. Making the choice to become a homeowner, I knew that I wanted that for my daughter as well—to come back and say this is where I grew up.

Carroll hopes others are inspired by her story to become homeowners. And she has this to say about everyone who supports Habitat and helped make her dream possible:

“They are dream-makers, they are wish-makers, and a thousand million thank-yous is all I can say. They’re changing lives.”


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