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Women of color come together for refugee family

National Women Build Week 2012: Des Moines, Iowa
By Jena Nathan


Women Build volunteers celebrate National Women Build Week with a ceremonial balloon release.


Hamad, Wigdan, and their children pose in what will soon be their new kitchen.


On May 5, 2012, women volunteers raised their hammers at 2612 Bowdoin in Des Moines, Iowa to recognize National Women Build Week.

This year, the majority of volunteers involved in the build were women of color, which reflects the diversity of greater Des Moines and local women’s willingness to support Habitat’s mission to create affordable homeownership opportunities.

Many of the volunteers were also members of The Links Inc., an international nonprofit that consists of 12,000 professional women of color in 274 chapters. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.

The home the women helped to construct will be purchased by Hamad and Wigdam, refugees from Sudan. The couple has four children ranging in age from nine-years-old to nine months. The family is currently paying $850 a month for their rental expenses, but is excited to pay closer to $550 a month for a Habitat mortgage.

To kickoff Women Build Week the volunteers decided to have a ceremony honoring the homebuyer family, including a balloon release.

Women Build co-chairs Mary Chapman and Jacquie Easley McGhee, State representative Ruth Ann Gaines, and many other volunteers were in attendance to let the balloons fly and bless the home and construction volunteers. Hamad and Wigdam were also on hand at the kickoff to help install the first window in their new home.

Volunteers will continue work throughout the summer and the family will purchase the home in late July.

Jena Nathan is the outreach manager for Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity.