"I couldn't express the joy and relief I felt the day a golden letter came to me from Habitat for Humanity. I couldn't believe my eyes, I read the letter three times!" Abu shared, during the dedication event just last week, celebrating both his family's home, and the new home of Fayissa and Denebe.
He continued, "You let me enjoy the day I was longing to see for so long. I am sure my family will no longer ask me the same tough questions they asked for so long: "Daddy, how long are we going to live in a crowded home?", "Come on Daddy, how can we study when we don't have our own rooms?", "Daddy, one restroom for a family of eight, really?"
Both Abu and Fayissa spoke about leaving Ethiopia due to political unrest and persecution that continues to affect their friends and families today.
Fayissa shared that his family's journey from Ethiopia to the United States began in the 1990s, when he and Denebe escaped the violence by moving to Kenya. They stayed there for thirteen years, working with global programs like the Red Cross and helping their community. "We gained a lot of experience and understanding working with people from different countries."
When they were offered the opportunity to move to either the U.S. or France, they choice America. "We are very glad to be citizens and to experience the freedom of living and having a home here. Thank you, Twin Cities Habitat, for providing this opportunity and fulfilling our dreams."
One way that Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity works to provide affordable, safe housing is by rehabilitating existing homes in the greater Metro area. Abu and his wife Hamzia are buying a home they, in partnership with Twin Cities Habitat, rehabbed or repaired.
Most rehab homes get a lot worse before they get better. Dave Madzo, Twin Cities Habitat Site Supervisor, told a story about Hamzia coming to site during one of the messy demolition days:
"It was the first day of demolition and it looked awful. We had heard that Hamzia was working on a site nearby, but we were hoping she wouldn't visit the site; we didn't want her to see the house like that. But she did. She walked through and just smiled at everything! I told her, 'I promise it is going to get so much better.' Hamzia just looked at the gutted walls and said, very causally, "don't worry about it."'
Dave Madzo & McKinsie Clyde, Site Supervisor for Fayissa & Denebe's home, thanked their AmeriCorps Members Alana, Joe and Maggie. "They really kept it together. They reminded me of the things I forgot, and found the things I dropped," said McKinsie.
Kate Loe, Senior Director of Resource Development, spoke about our long history working with Travelers, the Keystone Sponsor on Fayissa & Denebe's home. "Travelers really brings in new volunteers and is adept at gathering communities together."
McKinsie said the ability of the volunteers from Travelers to gather support was demonstrated on site: "Every day, Joe & I would stand on the porch and watch for drivers in red shirts. There was only one that kept driving, everyone else was coming here. It was an incredible volunteer turnout."
Twin Cities Habitat is grateful for the continued support from community sponsors, donors, volunteers and families. They allow us to make a difference in huge ways.
As Dave put it, "I see all the little ones running around and am reminded why I do this. What all of you do has a great effect on generations to come."