From Living In Fear To Finding Peace
Meet The Afghanzada Family
The Afghanzada family emigrated from Kabul, Afghanistan to the United States in 2017. Since their arrival to the United States, they welcomed their youngest son. As their family grew in size, they knew the need for a bigger home was a must. Rather than finding a larger apartment to fit their family, they decided to look into homeownership. Their family was unable to afford a traditional bank mortgage so they applied at Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity and were approved. They are earnestly putting in sweat equity hours while eagerly awaiting to move into their new home by late spring 2021.
Abdul Afghanzada was born in 1979, in Kabul, Afghanistan. This is where he studied to become a mechanic and eventually opened up a mechanic shop in Kabul. Abdul worked with the US Military and Afghan Army as a lead mechanic and maintained their cars, trucks, and tanks. Life in Afghanistan was very dangerous because there was a war going on in the country. Every day they were faced with the constant bombings, acts of terror, and constant violence. Mr. Afghanzada feared for his life and the lives of his family. They were able to apply for a Special Immigration Visa at the US embassy in Kabul. Once they were accepted, they all came to the United States and were planted in Aurora through World Relief in February of 2017. He says that moving to the United States was the first step to for his family to start healing. There was much more to offer his family, a better education, more job opportunities, and safer living conditions. Although they miss their families back home in Afghanistan, they are always in contact with one another. Abdul and his wife both believe that this was the best choice for their family and has no regrets.
Viavia Simah was born in Afghanistan in 1987. This is where she met and married her husband, Abdul. She said they had a good life, they owned a home, a car, had plenty of work until the war broke out and they lost everything and feared for their lives. Viavia said that she misses is her family and friends but likes this new adventure as she has the company of her family. She describes her new life as a huge change in culture, language, food, and people and has no regrets for leaving her country for a better life. She is a stay-at-home mom, taking care of her three kids is a full-time job. Before Covid 19, she was attending regular ESL classes offered by World Relief and misses those times with other people also learning the language.
She describes the place where they currently live as a little small for a family of five, however, she is glad that soon, her family will have a more spacious home with enough space for her kids to play. She is grateful to Habitat for this amazing opportunity. She is also happy because her family is part of this project with Habitat and they have the opportunity of meeting good people who always are willing to help. We asked her what her dream house was and she said, “I would like a house with a lot of rooms, a bedroom for each of our children and one for us. I would like to have a big living room and kitchen, a garage, laundry room, and a backyard where my kids can play.”
When they moved to Aurora, the whole family was place into a two-bedroom apartment. Although the family had a place to live, they hit a couple of obstacles after arriving in the United States. Fitting four people in a two-bedroom apartment was a big challenge in itself, and in November,2017, they welcomed their third child. The need for a bigger place for their family was becoming a big issue. Unable to qualify for a traditional mortgage, a friend of theirs who are Habitat homeowners, recommended he apply for a home in Aurora at Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity. Abdul and Viavia went to an orientation meeting and sent in the application and were approved into the program in September of 2019. Slowly they are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In 2019, Abdul lost his job because the firm he was working for moved out of state. As if this was not enough bad luck, the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020 and took a toll on their family, with sickness and loss of income. Abdul eventually found another job late in 2020, and with the pandemic in full effect, it has become harder for him to afford the rent of this small two-bedroom apartment. To make matters worse, January 2021, Abdul was laid off his current job due to the slow economy. Although the Afghanzada family is experiencing a series of unfortunate events, there is saving grace in the hopes to move into a new three-bedroom home with a two-car garage and a much needed yard for the children.
Since September of 2019, the family has been working on doing their sweat equity hours on homes of others. In the process, he has learned a couple of things that will help him when he is officially a homeowner such as learning how to paint, put in drywall, and how to manage money. Due to COVID, he has spent a lot of his sweat equity hours at the brand-new West Aurora ReStore that opened in November. Abdul says that he likes everyone at the ReStore. They are good people and welcoming to him. He says that he will likely stop by after he gets his home and help out whenever he can.
When asked about his most memorable experience, he says he can still recall the day that he received a call from Barb Zegiel, the Funds and Marketing Coordinator, to break the news that they had been accepted to become Habitat homeowners. He says that the whole family was beyond excited and they could not wait to be able to move into their new home. Abdul called this the biggest step to being able to keep his family safe, after living in a country that was plagued with constant violence, this was a massive milestone in their lives. Abdul and Viavia want what every parent hopes for, to have a happy, healthy, safe, and educated family. Abdul says that he is excited about the house, but he believes that his kids are the most excited about moving, because they will have their own rooms.
Abdul and Viavia have three children. The oldest daughter is 11 years old, born in Afghanistan and is in the fifth grade at Smith Elementary School. She will soon go to middle school and looking forward to the new experiences where she can make new friends. She so excited about moving into their new house because she can finally have her own bedroom. All three children share a bedroom, so the idea of having her own space is something she has always dreamed of. She would like her room to be painted white and turquoise.
The couple also has two sons, ages 9 and 3. The second oldest was also born in Afghanistan. He is currently in the third grade attending Smith Elementary. He said he wants to be a professional soccer player when he grows up. He already plans to paint the walls grey and white and have a loft bed in his room with a desk to do his homework. He also dreams of a big yard so he can play soccer with his dad. He says he wants a Golden Retriever or a German Shepard if his parents let them have a pet. He is beyond excited to move into their new house and he is prepared to deal with everything that comes with their new home. The youngest son is still too young to have any say in the matter but give a few years, and he will have a lot to say about his home.
Mrs. Afghanzada would like to invite anyone to be part of Habitat for Humanity. She also wants people to know that Habitat for Humanity is an organization that changes people's lives. Anyone can help others to make their dream come true and doors are open for everyone. The biggest misconception the both of them learned was that the houses are not free to anyone who wants one. The truth is that Habitat homeowners have to work harder than average homeowners because they give back to others while working on their homes and the process is similar to buying a regular home.
The whole family wants to thank everyone who has donated or volunteered on their home or on the homes of the other future homeowners. It’s because of others that we are able to get affordable housing. They also urge anyone who is thinking about donating or volunteering to do it because it means more to them than anyone will ever know. The Afghanzada family is very grateful for everything the organization has done for them and they are ecstatic to be able to move into their new home. Any contributions to Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity will directly benefit the housing program.
Aurora University Marketing Intern