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Building a better life in a new home (part 2) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Building a better life in a new home (part 2)


Antoine Nkezabara and his sons (clockwise) Olivier, Steven and Elvis pose in their Sunday best not long after moving into their Habitat home. Photo courtesy of Antoine Nkezabara


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‘It’s a family home’

In 2008, Antoine paid off the Habitat mortgage and moved his family to another house in the suburbs. But he kept the Habitat home.

“It’s something that belongs to us, and we belong to it,” he said. “At least twice a month, I drive by it.”

They are renting out the house right now, but Antoine imagines one of his children will return to it someday.

“It’s a family home,” he said. “One of them will live in it.”

Habitat made the difference

Antoine and Epiphanie’s children have flourished in their new environment.

Their oldest, Olivier, attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Steven is finishing up a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Pennsylvania. Just this month, Sandrine is giving a commencement address at UNC Charlotte, where she earned a degree in public health. And Elvis is doing well in high school.

Sandrine, now 22, is applying for the AmeriCorps service program and plans to go to graduate school. One day, she hopes to start a global nonprofit to help teenage girls get access to education.

She wants to find a way to give back, she said, because she knows she was luckier than other girls who weren’t blessed with such hard-working parents.

“Now that I’m older and I understand bills, and I understand student loans, and I understand putting gas in your car and the little stuff, I can’t imagine how my parents did that with four kids,” she said. “It’s really humbling to realize what my parents did — what they’re still doing to this day.”

Antoine says much of the credit belongs to Habitat.

“There are some other friends of mine who came from Rwanda who were not lucky enough to have a Habitat home,” he said. “They had to have two jobs to get a bigger place or buy a home, and they are still working at the same two jobs to get by. Habitat gave me a boost to go further.”