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“After 40 years of staying in a single room my dream of owning a house has finally come true!”

My name is Agnes Mideton and I am a trained administrative secretary. In the early 60s, around 1963 or 1964, I lived in a house in a suburb called Fann in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.The area was owned by a state housing agency SICAP. Everything was fine there until one day, without any notice we were asked to move for a short period of time because they needed to renovate the houses, including mine. They promised to call us back after they were done with the renovations, but they never did!

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Madame Agnes Mideton (yellow dress) and the family.

 

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Mrs Agnes Mideton in front of her old house

I was then forced to move to another residential area called Karack, where I occupied a single room. The year was 1967 and because I was single at the time with no children, it was fine. I didn’t have to pay extra for additional people so it suited me just fine. Now I have 10 children, all of them I had while I was staying in that single room. All 12 of us shared that one room until the end of 2006! Can you imagine how unhygienic it was to share that small space with so many people? If one of you in the house falls ill, then you know everyone else will get the same thing, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. The kids did not even have a place to play. At night, to have space for everybody to sleep, we used to move the furniture around. But because we did not have enough money, we had to live in those conditions. It wasn’t safe because there were just too many people in the same space. The worst thing was sharing a toilet and a bathroom in the mornings with neighbours; we had to queue to use the toilet. It used to be a real ordeal.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I lost my job. It was a wake-up call for me because I realized I had to do something for my children’s wellbeing before it was too late. That is when we decided to form a solidarity group called “Cité Collective” with the other tenants, to enforce self help activities with the goal of helping and supporting each other in our common misery. Our best dream was for a miracle to happen one day so that we could have decent homes. This miracle did finally happen this year, 2007, when Habitat for Humanity moved into our community. Today, I am one of the proudest homeowners of a decent house in a decent community built with Habitat. The land we built our houses on was provided by the Government who also subsidized the houses with $4000. I believe that had it not been for Habitat for Humanity Senegal, none of us would have a place to call home. God had blessed us in the best way ever; I feel dignified and I am so proud to point people to my house. The houses are so beautiful. We will forever be grateful to Habitat and the volunteers who helped make our dream of owning a house a reality. I pray to God everyday that Habitat will be able to help other families in need of decent housing as they have helped me.