Harun and Amal’s household buzzed with cheers and glee on the joyful morning that their dreams manifested before them: they just received the call from Habitat for Humanity that they were approved to become homeowners. Their excitement filled the room as they found themselves transitioning into a new chapter in their lives. Their future home in Beaverton would mean an abundance of opportunities for themselves and for their children; they could build lasting relationships with their neighbors, attend schools nearby, and live with the security and tranquility that comes with owning a home.
The journey to purchasing their own home was not easy, but was worth their sweat and toil. Harun and Amal both spent most of their lives in Oregon before meeting, getting married and settling down in a comfortable apartment in Portland. Although they had a roof over their heads, they longed for a sense of community and security. Memories of their childhood still echoed in their lives and fanned their passion for homeownership.
“Our parents owned their own home. So, we knew what it felt like to have that sense of stability and of being part of a community. It just makes sense and makes life a lot easier. There is a positive thing about being in one place and knowing your neighbors and going to the same school as the other kids” Amal says.
The defining event that led Harun and Amal to seek refuge in the U.S began in the year 1991. This marked the start of a conflict between factions in Somalia, later known as the Somalian Civil War. This blow rippled in the country’s history for years—thousands of people felt the shock wave in their lives, including Harun, who was only 17 when he fled with his family and sought refuge in the U.S.
“The only thing we had on were flip flops and blue jeans. My dad said, ‘Our lives are more important than material things.’’’
Similarly, Amal, who was only 10 at the time she migrated, escaped before the Somalian Civil War broke out and was able to find a safe haven in the U.S. Both escaped with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their lives. Although they felt unsure of what fate had in store for them, they knew it would be safer.
After moving to Oregon, they began to rent, but the dream of one day becoming homeowners remained. Homeownership is deeply rooted in the lives and history of both Harun and Amal. Both their parents built their homes from the ground up. Everything from setting the foundation to installing their door frame – both Harun and Amal grew up in a place they could truly call their own.
It was not a single spark, but a combination of motives which led the couple to begin researching steps on owning a home in Oregon. They spoke with other homeowners and eventually heard about the opportunity to purchase an affordable home with Habitat for Humanity. As they worked to apply, they saw other Habitat homebuyers prosper and flourish. This further ignited their enthusiasm of owning their own home and soon their dreams were realized.
Today, Harun and Amal are following in their parents’ footsteps as they work alongside Habitat construction crews and volunteers to build a safe and affordable 16-home community in Beaverton. Amal describes the process as “fitting like a glove.”
“When you know something’s meant to be, nothing gets in the way,” she says. “We applied, and every step of the way was absolutely and properly made for us. It was easy; It was fast. We understood everything and we were all on the same page. There was never a doubt that there would be nothing but growth.”
For Harun, Amal, and their children, owning a house with an affordable mortgage will allow them the opportunity to grow in one place. It will enable the family to pursue their passion for school.
“We’re both into education,” Amal says. “So, we both are thinking of taking a few more courses and getting certified into certain fields such as science and biology.”
Their eldest child is in 6th grade and will be enrolling into a tech and engineering program when their family moves to their new home. The two younger children are in elementary school and kindergarten and like to play sports and score goals on the weekends.
Reflecting on the support that they received along their journey with Habitat, Amal shares,”One factor that centered our excitement and our understanding of this program, and that served as one of the staples for us, was really Mrs. Erin Maxey (Habitat’s Director of Homeownership). She was phenomenal for us. She understood, she explained, she just made things absolutely easy. She knew how to answer our questions and we always left feeling absolutely more and more excited. We also thank everyone that was involved and all the volunteers.”