A Time to Settle In

Solomon Geberemariame has become very familiar with anticipation.

In April 2012, he learned his family had been approved to become Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East homeowners. As soon he got the call, he says, “I cannot wait, you know. Every step of the way, I’m like, ‘When’s it going to be done? When are we going to have a house?’”

When he finally received the keys to his Habitat house at the dedication ceremony, he says, “I couldn’t believe it. Really? I’m a homeowner?”

“When I’m done with my job, I run home to play with my kids, stay with my family,” says Solomon Geberemariame. “I’m happy. A house is good things.”

Having spent a lot of time moving between small or unhealthy apartments, Geberemariame seems most excited that his 3-year-old daughter Rohama will not have to change schools or make new friends. For her to have the time to really connect with people and her community — a safe community — is very important to him. “She’ll have permanent friends, her good friends,” he says. “She’s not going to move out all the time, from place to place.”

She already has a friend next door in their neighborhood of new Habitat homes. Solomon and his neighbor, Lam, got to know each other while building their homes and soon discovered that their children are the same age. “When you work that sweat equity, that 500 hours, we worked together, so we know each other now,” he says.

For Geberemariame, the communal aspect of the building process added joy to his growing anticipation. Since they’ve already invested so much time in their new neighborhood together, his family and their neighbors felt strongly connected to it before they ever moved in. “You enjoy the fun and work,” he says. “You get to know other people, where they’re from, how they live. Everything was so social, so we just learned a lot of things even from that.”

Once the building was done, Geberemariame began reaping the benefits of some newfound free time. “Now when I’m done with my job, I just run home to play with my kids, stay with my family,” he says. “I’m happy. I just, I don’t know how to say this. I mean, a house is a house.

“A house is good things.”

Megan Frank