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Second life as lumber (part 4) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Second life as lumber (part 4)


Sintayehu Garoma and his wife, Birhane Hailu, along with their daughter, Sifin, will celebrate their first Christmas in their new home this year.

Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Philadelphia

The Garoma-Hailu family: ‘We feel very lucky and honored’
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2011 tree


This year, Sintayehu Garoma and his wife, Birhane Hailu, will have a Christmas tree for the first time in a long time.

Back in Ethiopia, Garoma was a college biology teacher, and Hailu was a nurse. When they immigrated to the United States in 2008, their plan was to work hard, earn money to send home, and start bringing their families over.

But their education and job experience in Ethiopia did not translate in the United States.

“We had to humble ourselves and decide to keep persevering, because it was worth it to be able to support our families back in Ethiopia,” Garoma said. He took a job at a 7-11. She got pregnant and then found work as a certified nursing assistant at an assisted living home.

Today, Hailu is taking classes at the Community College of Philadelphia, and Garoma is getting his master’s degree so he can go back to teaching.

The couple and their daughter, Sifin, moved into their Habitat house, built with lumber from the 2011 Rockefeller Center Tree, in November.

“Since I cook all the time, I really look forward to having a kitchen with a stove that works,” Hailu said as her moving day approached. “And I am excited to be able to grow our own vegetables.”

They are eagerly preparing for Christmas.

“We always put up decorations for Christmas, but now we will be able to get our very own tree for our living room,” she said. “We feel very lucky and honored to have a part of this special Rockefeller tree in our house. It will make Christmas in our home even more special this year.”

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