When asked what home means to him, Jean wrote it down in his first language, Kinyarwanda: “Ahantuzaba igihecyose hitwiwawe.”
Translated, it means, “It will always be with you.”
When Jean and Angelique look at their young children — Jayden, who’s 4, and Jovan, who’s 1 ½ — they can’t help but wonder about what the future holds.
Jean hopes one day they’ll be doctors. He remembers when his mother had a stroke back in Africa. “But if we had someone to take care of her…” Jean says. “I would like for my children to become doctors so they can help people like my mom.”
Jean has been working as a caregiver for the past 5 years. He is happy to take care of his patients. “It feels good,” Jean says. Jean likes to think of himself as the caregiver to his family as well.
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But without a home, that’s challening. For Jean, it means never getting to settle somewhere, to never leave his mark. Jean says, “I don’t want to move out, move in. My family – we love each other. When we plant something, we always stick together.”
Another big challenge is the high rent and electric bills. “They are always going up and up and up,” he says, shaking his head. Much as he loves to save it’s nearly impossible in the summer when it’s always hot inside – they don’t even have a working air conditioning unit. They’ve called the apartment office many times about these issues. “If something’s broken, they never fix it,” he says.
Jean and Angelique have lived in their current home for four years, but the neighborhood makes them feel unsafe. Loud neighbors often break into fights. It’s not unusual to find empty beer bottles outside their door. “When I’m not there, the kids don’t go out. They’re scared.”
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Jean and Angelique know that a Habitat home would be life-changing for their family. Angelique thinks of home as “your own place.”
Looking down at his children, Jean says, “They’re going to be free – to play, to go out in the backyard. It’s going to be a really good change – to sit in your own home and think, This is my home. This is my house. I will be here forever.”
It’s hard to find the words to describe what home means. When asked what home means to him, Jean wrote it down in his first language, Kinyarwanda: “Ahantuzaba igihecyose hitwiwawe.” Translated, it means, “It will always be with you.”
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