Alphonse Habonimana, his wife Analissa Kabura and their family are Burundian refugees who were settled by Catholic Charities’ Migration and Refugee Services in 2007. They are pictured below in their brand new Habitat for Humanity home, with their children (from left) Estelle, Melanie, Samwell, Nishimine and Jole.

Photo by Suzanna Carr Rossi | The Free Lance-Star

Photo by Suzanna Carr Rossi | The Free Lance-Star

 

Story by Amy Flowers Umble / Printed with permission from The Free Lance-Star

The walls were up. The roof was framed. The house in North Stafford was almost finished.

But as he applied a thin coat of gray paint to a bedroom wall, Alphonse Habonimana couldn’t picture living within those walls.

“My brain stopped working,” he said. “I don’t believe this. I don’t believe, maybe next year I will have this house.”

Two weeks later, Habonimana and his family moved in.

He was astonished at how quickly the Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity built his home, expecting it to take a year or more. From the moment the footings were poured, Habonimana waited 10 weeks for his house to be complete, but his path from refugee to renter to homeowner was long and winding.

At times, living in a refugee camp in Tanzania, Habonimana didn’t have a roof over his head at all. He couldn’t imagine a life as a homeowner in America. But Habonimana had faith in God and plenty of experience with fresh starts.

He doesn’t like to relive his past.

“I try to forget, I don’t talk about it, it’s too hard,” Habonimana said. “It’s hard for talking. Life in camps is no good; it’s a bad life. I can’t express it.”

He was about 6 years old when his parents fled Burundi, a central African country that has been plagued by civil wars and violence for the past four decades.

He grew up in a refugee camp, married and had six children. He started a business sewing clothes….

***

This story originally appeared in Fredericksburg’s The Free Lance-Star. Continue reading their amazing story of transformation from living in a refugee camp to living in brand new house — aided by generous groups including Catholic Charities.
To support other families that are assisted by our Migration and Refugee Services program, please make a donation or sign up to be a volunteer. We need assistance with greeting families at the airport and providing meals for them when they arrive, furnishing their apartment, teaching cultural orientation and English as a Second Language, or teaching cultural orientation.

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