Buba had almost lost her hope, until she found DuPage Habitat for Humanity.
“At one point, I was like, ‘Why did I come to this country?’ I thought, ‘I might need to go back, because I just can’t live like this.’ There was no home here, and I couldn’t even have afforded the rent by working two full-time jobs.”
Future DuPage Habitat homeowner, Buba, genuinely thought that living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia would have been better than trying to afford the rent in DuPage County.
Buba came to America as a 19-year-old refugee, with only her 50-year-old mother, 3-year-old daughter and her clothes. In fact, Buba’s family had been refugees since before she was born in Sudan. She knew that within three months of her arrival, she needed to find a job and become self-sufficient. When they first arrived in the Chicagoland area, they lived with Buba’s uncle, but soon afterward he lost his job and moved away, leaving them to cover the rent alone. Buba just couldn’t afford it. They were homeless for a short period of time because even the rent for a one-bedroom apartment was impossible. They lived with a friend who had his own one-bedroom, turning the living room into their own space. During this time, Buba was working full-time while also trying to get a degree, and considered quitting school just so she could work more hours to try and make things a little better for her family.
Buba says, “The reason I came to this country is to have a better life, so I decided, ‘I’m going to go to school, graduate, have a better job, take care of myself, and my mom and daughter.’ And I want to be an example for my daughter, a role model.”
Part of setting an example for her daughter, Siyanda, is finding a solid, stable home for her to grow up in. Buba says moving the family four different times has really started to take a toll on Siyanda, 8, who has changed schools all four times. After they moved in with Buba’s friend, they were forced to pull Siyanda out of pre-K and have one of the teachers stop by once a week to work with her. She loves school and they’ve made every sacrifice to make sure she keeps going, but Siyanda loves her friends as well, and always has a hard time leaving them when she changes schools. It hasn’t been an easy journey for a young girl.
She soon found a transitional housing and mentorship program, and her luck started to turn. They offered her a place with affordable rent, making it possible for her to continue her classes and only work part-time until she had her degree. Even with some of the burden lifted, Buba still had to persevere through long days at work, school, and home.
When Buba found out she could work for her own home through DuPage Habitat, she knew it was a blessing and the perfect match for her can-do, will-do attitude. She knew that her family deserved more. This inspired her to complete her homeowner training sessions and work tirelessly toward their new home. She was so excited by the opportunity she saw for her family, and determined to get things rolling as quickly as possible, that she performed her 250 sweat equity hours in just over three months. She admits it was tough, but her inspiration kept her going. She wants a better life for her daughter: “A stable house, to be stable financially, and better security for her.”
A decent and affordable home can remove barriers to opportunity, success, and health that might have been part of the family’s life for years, if not generations. Cost burden is associated with less housing stability, including repeated moves. Frequent or unplanned childhood moves reduce achievement and can set whole classrooms behind. When families partner with DuPage Habitat they’re able to purchase an affordable home that gives them the strength and independence they need to create a better life for themselves and their families. Buba can finally promise her daughter they will never have to move again, thanks to support from DuPage Habitat for Humanity, and the stability they will have through their new home.