Saran and Yayah met as children when they were neighbors in Liberia. Growing up in Liberia during the war, they both experienced devastating and tremendous loss at young ages.
“I lost both of my parents in the war,” Yayah recalls, “My dad was sick, and my mom was taking food to the hospital to him when a big bomb was shot through the hospital. It blew the whole hospital to the ground.”
After years of hardship in Liberia following the tragic death of his parents, Yayah was accepted into a refugee program and started his new life in the United States. Several years later, Saran won a lottery program that allowed her to move to the U.S. as well, and the two of them reconnected after meeting again.
Together, Saran and Yayah are now raising their six children: Mamayan (11), Alusine (10), Mawata (9), Aisha (7), Masa (2), and Noah (1). Their family loves cooking and eating together, playing sports, and learning. Yayah is on the road often, working as a truck driver, and Saran works in housekeeping for a university.
This family’s journey to homeownership has been fraught with difficulties. Several years ago, Saran and Yayah’s family was evicted from their three-bedroom rental because their family was too big. “We begged her,” Yayah shares, “I told the lady, ‘Please do month-to-month. Charge whatever you want; I will work and pay for it. We have a lot of kids. We need a place to live,’ but she said no.”
After a month of scrambling, crashing with family members, and Yayah sleeping in his truck, they finally found another rental; however, the formerly unoccupied unit does not provide adequate living conditions for their family. There are no closets in the kids’ bedrooms, and the space is very tight. Their rental has no heat, so they must use individual heaters plugged into outlets to keep the place warm enough during the winter. “For one year, the sink for the dish water couldn’t go through,” Yayah says, “We had to set a bowl inside the sink, wash a dish, and throw the water outside. For one year we were doing that.” On top of these difficult living conditions, their landlord has said he will soon raise the rent $400.
Saran and Yayah have stayed optimistic through their difficulties, doing what needs to be done to make it through hard times. They are so excited that all their hard work is paying off as they prepare to build their family’s forever home alongside their Covenant Partner, Clayton, and Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.
“We can’t wait to see ourselves owning our own place with all our kids,” says Yayah, “We are so excited to be a part of this program. We are the lucky ones.” This family is excited to become part of a community and to fill their home with what they call the three Fs: family, food, and fun.
Saran and Yayah’s new home will provide their kids with the space they need to grow and thrive. This family will find peace of mind knowing they have stability, safety, warmth, and freedom in their forever home.
Yayah exclaims, “I pray to God a lot of good families that really need this opportunity can get it. I don’t want it to end with just us. I want a lot of people to be involved in this.”