Omari, Chantel and their family
Omari and Chantel’s close-knit family of nine has sacrificed and worked so hard for a better life. Their children, ranging in age from 3 to 19, constantly help their parents with chores, translations or anything else their family needs.
The family was forced to flee their home country of Burundi due to the danger of conflicts, wars and persecution. Their long journey and sacrifices to find peace and safety brought them to America and Knoxville. Although this family’s housing insecurity brought them here, their challenges toward finding a safe and secure home have continued.
Since moving to Knoxville 12 years ago, the family has constantly struggled to find permanent and affordable housing. Although Omari and Chantel both work hard to provide for their family, they have experienced losing their home at least four separate times since moving to the United States, only because their family is too large for the small apartments they are able to afford.
They are currently living in a crowded, three-bedroom apartment with high rent. They hope to stay there long enough to build their new Habitat home so they do not have to move again before their move toward stability.
The family is eager to “have a place to call home,” where they won’t be discriminated for the size of their family. After years of escaping danger to arrive in the U.S., and then to face challenges of finding stable and affordable housing, they are ready to live peacefully as homeowners. They are excited to move into their very own home, with more room for everyone.
Omari and Chantel’s family also looks forward to growing a garden similar to the one they had back home in Burundi. Chantel looks forward to growing beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, peanuts and so much more. Owning her own home and having the freedom to plant a garden is something she was never sure she would be able to obtain.
With the information she has learned during budgeting classes, Omari and Chantel’s oldest daughter, Esperance believes her family is prepared for their next step as homeowners. As this family accomplishes their 500 hours of sweat equity through the Knoxville Habitat homeownership education program, they are now ready to build their home and begin this next chapter of their lives.
While their story may have started with strife and conflict, this family is so happy to be achieving the American Dream and are so appreciative of all the support they are receiving from the Knoxville Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors and Elavon.