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“I feel like we won the lottery,” Fisehaye Welde says as he and his wife, Selemawit, wait to start a day of construction on what will be his new Habitat home in San Jose. “But really, we won the lottery for our children, because they will now have a home to grow up in.”
Currently, Fisehaye and Selemawit live with their three youngest children (aged 12, 10, and 3) in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in San Jose. Fisehaye and Selemawit – or “Fish” and “Sele” to their friends, share a bedroom with their youngest son, Isaac, while their daughter, Hermon, and son Henok have beds in the other room. While the apartment is overcrowded, the Weldes are sacrificing comfort in order to afford a place in their current school district.
The impact of a stable, affordable home does not escape the family, including the children. Today is Harmon’s 12th birthday, and she decided to celebrate in a very special way - by being with the volunteers who are helping to build her home. As lunchtime approached, the whole family arrived with traditional Eritrean cuisine and set up a feast for the volunteers. Harmon’s excitement was obvious from the smile on her face and the gratitude she expressed to the group.
“Thank you for giving me this opportunity,” said Harmon as she addressed the group of 20 volunteers and construction staff. “I’ve lived in an apartment my whole life, so this is a really big deal for me.”
While the volunteers enjoyed lunch, the Weldes walked through their newly framed house. Harmon ventured inside the framed walls that will become her bedroom – a bedroom of her own for the first time. Like us, Harmon and her family could see beyond the frame and envision the memories they will soon create in this home and this community.