An African refugee family of eight living in Mesa finally found a home, thanks to hundreds of volunteers who answered a call for help from Habitat for Humanity and the Pima Medical Institute.
Ahmed and Fatuma Awdahir and their six children had been living for months in a tiny apartment, searching in vain for a place to accommodate them.
“This has a lot of meaning for me. I’ve been looking for a long time. I’m Muslim, and my religion doesn’t accept any interest rate, so I’ve been looking for a house to buy, and I couldn’t find it. So, somebody told me about Habitat and this program, and finally I got it after I applied. I just want to thank God and everybody that helped,” Ahmed Awdahir said.
Habitat for Humanity partnered with PMI to provide the funding and 420 people volunteered for a combined 3,902 hours of work to fix up an abandoned house for the family.
“There’s a huge need for housing here for families that have never owned a home, so we partnered with Habitat for Humanity and just wanted to give back,” PMI chairman Richard Luebke Jr. said.
“Habitat gives us the opportunity for us to get a lot of our people involved in a tangible way,” he added. “They can actually go out, and we had people out here Saturday mornings using hammers, saws and hanging dry wall, so it was a great chance to do teamwork as well as help others.”
Though the Awdahirs knew they were set to enter their new home on May 19, there were still surprises to be had when they arrived.
Though they had paid for the building supplies and provided much of the labor, Luebke and his wife, Connie, paid for the entire house to be furnished as well.
Excited for their new beds, the Awdahir kids instantly ran throughout the house, marveling at the new, larger space.
“This is somewhere that we could live forever,” one child exclaimed.
Luebke said: “It was well-worth it to see the surprise they had and the look on their faces.”
Each volunteer got a chance to write their name on a wall throughout the construction process, and Ahmed Awdahir got the chance to finally thank each of them for their help in his pursuit of the American dream.
“The same way you all wrote your names on the wall,” he told a crowd of well-wishers, “your names are written in my heart.”