Saturday was a busy day for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area (HFHGCA), consisting of a new home dedication for Achan Okech and her son Robert Bagio, and a groundbreaking ceremony for Pius Mutubwa and Nathalie Mwitwa.
Achan Okech and her son Robert are moving into their new Habitat home at 620 North Holly Street. Originally refugees from Sudan, Achan and Robert are living the “American Dream.” Their home of Sudan is a war ravaged country that has resulted in over two million dying from war, disease, and famine in the last three decades. Over four million Sudanese have been displaced: two of whom are Achan and Robert.
Achan and Robert came to Chattanooga in 2005 to begin with a fresh start. They moved into a small single bedroom apartment. Robert worked as much as he could while his mother learned English. After Achan learned English, she too began to work so they could move into a two bedroom apartment. Achan wanted to have a home of her own for her and Robert, but could not find any way to finance it. They soon met some refugees from the Sudan who had been helped by HFHGCA. Achan and Robert applied and were accepted into the Habitat program.
“If you come in this country you need to work hard. Work hard and do something for your future,” said Robert. “Habitat is only way we can start our American Dream in this country. We hope others come here to have same opportunity as we have."
Pius and Nathalie’s groundbreaking was also held on the 25th at 3410 3rd Avenue, and construction of their new home is under way.
Pius is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nathalie from one of the poorest countries in world, Burundi. They wanted to leave Africa because of the political unrest. Pius and Nathalie moved, with their two boys, two girls and another baby on the way, to Chattanooga with assistance from the Bridge program.
“It’s good. I learn many things for keeping the house [maintenance] and saving on the power [energy conservation] and everything like that,” Pius said when asked what he has learned through the Habitat program. Nathalie is most excited about having a four bedroom home for her growing family.
If you would like to volunteer to work on Pius and Nathalie’s home or donate to future homes, contact Dawn Hjelseth, Director of Volunteers, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-756-0507 ext. 16.