“Since I got the call, I couldn’t stop thinking about when I will get this house … I wish I could move in today!” Selmanesh’s eager attitude was evident, even through her mask. Her eyes lit up the room with a radiance of joy. The thought of a house where everyone has their own room seemed almost foreign to this mother of two. To think about the summer nights where she and her many friends will enjoy great laughs and food in privacy or her first Christmas in the new home were magical ideas scurrying throughout her mind. More importantly, homeownership to this appreciative woman indicates more than being able to call a house home – her Habitat for Humanity home signifies the release from the stress she endured since moving to the United States.
Selmanesh and her two sons came to America as refugees escaping the totalitarian government in the East African country of Eritrea in 2009. The family lived in Utah until 2010, when they moved to Boston for the next three years. From knowing little to no English and lacking proper education to sending her boys to daycare all day to go to work, Selmanesh’s mental and physical health deteriorated throughout her first few years in the new country. She describes the headaches she would get daily as the product of all the stress she underwent.
The three moved to Rhode Island in 2018 due to increasing rent prices in Boston. Since then, Selmanesh and her boys have fallen in love with the Ocean State, even claiming, “It is where God chose us to be.” Despite the location change, Selmanesh has maintained her occupation in Boston – meaning that she has over an hour commute every day (Boston traffic permitting). Because of this, Selmanesh wakes up at 4:00 AM daily to prepare for herself for her fourteen-hour day and cook meals for her sons.
Despite her many hardships, Selmanesh has ensured stability for herself and her family. She has maintained sound finances through hard work and careful spending, even to have her eldest son in college. Selmanesh also strives to create as comfortable a life as possible for her sons, even if they are not in the best situation. Sacrifice is the one word best suited to describe her. No matter what she faces in her life, Selmanesh persists in providing stability for her boys, even if it adds some discomfort to her own life.
This philosophy – to sacrifice and keep faith in the face of adversity – has influenced Salmenesh’s sons to become charitable and caring young men. Her oldest son, Yusef, is pursuing a career in nursing to help those in poverty or crisis. He also is passionate about charity and wishes for all of his money to be distributed to underprivileged individuals at the end of his life. In addition to having a caring worldview, the two young men pray for their mother’s safety and happiness every night. The family believes that their Habitat home is the answer to their prayers.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Providence is proud to welcome Selmanesh and her family as one of the first families accepted into our revamped Homeownership Program. Selmanesh represents the core idea of the American Dream: overcoming obstacles and making sacrifices to obtain success for oneself and one’s family. Because of this, Selmanesh will be able to call herself a homeowner proudly. She describes this transition as “I felt handicapped until this day where I can stand up. This house will make me stand up.” Selmanesh can stand now, but it is not because of the home. She has trained her muscles to get up through constant diligence. And now, she will have the opportunity to run.
Currently, Selamnesh is working towards completing her required 350 hours of sweat equity and homeownership classes. To assist Selamnesh on her journey, please consider donating today. https://habitatpvd.org/give/