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‘God led the way to Habitat’

The Kouassi-Harper family of Knoxville, Tenn., will soon be moving into Habitat for Humanity’s milestone 200,000th house—bringing the total number of people living in Habitat homes to roughly one million. Ground has already been broken for their five-bedroom home, and the excitement is building that such an important event in the history of Habitat also means a new start for Tonya, Koffi and their children.

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The Kouassi-Harper family prepares to break
ground on their home.


View the groundbreaking video.

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200,000th House Photo Gallery

“It’s a dream of ours to have a house for our children. A place we can truly call home,” says Tonya Harper, the mother of this unique family.

Tonya and Koffi have weathered a range of housing and family challenges to get to the point of homeownership. Tonya started her family at a young age with her first marriage. She learned early how difficult it could be to raise a family while juggling living costs that made it hard to stay out of debt. Koffi, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast, knew poverty in his native land. He now works two jobs to ensure that his children do not have the same experiences.

This has been a challenge, however. Tonya and Koffi receive housing assistance for their current apartment, and it is too small to comfortably accommodate this family whose unconventional needs partly result from its blended nature. Some of the children have also had health problems that put extra strain on the family’s finances.

Tonya’s three older children are from a previous marriage, and she and Koffi have three other children of their own. Koffi also has three other daughters back in the Ivory Coast whom they hope to bring to the United States when enough money can be saved. Oldest daughter Jessica, who will be attending college this fall, only lives with the family part-time, partly due to overcrowding.

Koffi and Tonya feel blessed and comforted now that the dream of homeownership is becoming a reality. They will finally have the space and stability they need in order to be together. And for this family, for whom the children’s education is a high priority, the house will be a place to give thanks for met goals and realized dreams.

”I feel like God led the way to Habitat,” Tonya says. “Because if it wasn’t for our faith we would not have had this opportunity.”