The Getahun family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Getahun family


For the past three years, Helen Getahun has been living in a two-bedroom townhome with her two children, Lidia and Josep, and her cousin, Abeba.

‘Safety is the No. 1 issue’

Helen Getahun’s children, Lidia and Josep, spend most of their time inside because they live in an unsafe neighborhood.

The Getahuns, along with Helen’s cousin Abeba, have been living in a two-bedroom townhome for the past three years. As living costs have continued to increase, this cramped space has become unaffordable, despite her position as a nursing assistant at a skilled nursing facility in St. Paul.

That’s why the news from Habitat was so exciting.

“When I found out I got accepted, I couldn’t control myself. I was the happiest person ever,” Helen Getahun said, remembering the call that informed her she would become a Habitat homeowner. Several months later, that overwhelming sense of excitement lingers as the Getahun family works toward the completion of their home.

Getahun still has 40 hours of sweat equity to complete, and she is saving them for the day she will be able to work on her own home. Construction is slated to resume during the Carter Work Project.

Their new home will be safer, too. “Safety is the No. 1 issue,” Getahun said. “We’re looking forward to having a safe place to play and friendlier neighbors.”

Getahun’s bright smile shines through whenever she speaks about her children and their playful nature. The children are quite active, and will benefit from having more outdoor space in which to play. Lidia, 3, already speaks Tigrina—the language of central Eritrea—as well as Amharic, and she is quickly learning English at the local Wilder Center. Her little brother Josep, 18 months, has already picked up a few phrases of English from her.

She especially looks forward to taking her children on walks through the neighborhood to tire them out. “They will sleep better,” she said, smiling.