Rhoda's Habitat Story
How Rhoda will achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance through Habitat.
Rhoda, 34, looks forward to the day when she and her family feel rooted and a part of a community. The idea of living in the same neighborhood for decades to come was something that until recently, she thought was only a dream. Growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp, Rhoda had all but forgotten the peace of mind that comes from having a permanent home. Thankfully, her mother, Aboul’s, 79, memory has been steadfast throughout the years as she fondly recounts life on their family farm in South Sudan to Rhoda, her two boys, Gout, 10, Bol, 5, and her daughter Aboul, 2.
When Rhoda first came to the United States, she was expecting a culture shock, but she wasn’t expecting the difficulty in navigating the job and housing markets. It was startling to discover not only how tough the job market was but that even with a reliable income, she wasn’t able to find a decent, safe, and affordable place to call home. She also quickly found out that in America, positive credit history is crucial to housing stability; credit was a completely novel concept to Rhoda.
Rhoda’s mom, Aboul, has instilled in her the idea that a home is more than a place to sleep at night. A home is the beacon of safety and security, of warmth and love that a family needs to thrive. And after leaving the refugee camp in Kenya and resettling in America, Rhoda and her mother looked forward to just that. Unfortunately, unstable housing costs have forced them to move from cramped apartment to cramped apartment since resettling.
Still, Rhoda kept her faith in God and prayed that he would take care of her family’s needs. That prayer was answered in the form of a call from Lynn, a volunteer on DuPage Habitat for Humanity’s Family Services Committee, who informed her that she was accepted into the Homeownership Program. Rhoda sees the sweat equity as part of the answer to her prayer as well. By working alongside Habitat volunteers and staff to build the home of other future homeowners in the program, she was able to pick up invaluable home improvement skills that have given her confidence that as a single mother of three children under ten, she will be able to maintain upkeep on their future home in Glendale Heights.
Rhoda is excited about what this next chapter of their lives will bring. Room configurations are the obvious change, but what she’s most excited about is what this means for her children. “My kids will have peace of mind growing up in the same neighborhood, not having to move, and knowing they have a home and community of neighbors around them,” she says.
Rhoda also looks forward to the educational opportunities that will now be accessible to her children. “Rent is going up every year, so it is helpful knowing that my mortgage payment will stay flat and not change, it allows me to plan for the future, for my kids,” says Rhoda. She is already looking forward to seeing the first of her children attend college. Furthermore, Rhoda plans to leverage her home equity in the future to help ensure a college education for each of her children. While Rhoda has big plans for her children’s future, she is still grounded in her past and present.
When Rhoda was offered the ranch-style house across the street from a local park, she knew that it would be perfect for her entire family. Seeing the house for the first time, she couldn’t stop smiling and giggling. Immediately, she pictured her children playing across the street while her mother toiled in their backyard garden. She looks forward to the day when her mother once again gets to feel the soil running through her fingers as she tends to her vegetable and flower gardens, the way she did when she was a farmer in South Sudan.