Vafumba and Mabintou met in 2009 through an introduction between their families and friends. Mabintou had migrated from Liberia three years earlier to join her family in the United States. Vafumba, who was the first of his siblings to be born in the U.S., also has family ties to Liberia. Their shared history and culture bonded them quickly, and they were married six months later.
Vafumba is a U.S. Army veteran. During his years of military service, he was deployed twice for tours in Iraq and Kuwait. Looking back on his years of service, Vafumba shares, “It was the first time I ever was on my own. No family or friends for thousands of miles, and when you have no one, it’s interesting to see how you turn to God. It was the initial building and nurturing of my relationship with God, which is now the core of my foundation with life, family, and the world around me.”
Now, Vafumba works as a mechanic at a local car dealership, and Mabintou works hard to raise and care for their three children: Zakiya (11), Sumayyah (7), and Zahra (1). Together, their close-knit family loves being active outdoors, painting, and playing board games. They enjoy the time they get to spend together, finding fun and creative things to do in their community.
Right now, Vafumba, Mabintou and their three children are living in a two-bedroom apartment. Since they moved in, they have dealt with persistent maintenance issues such as water leaks from the upstairs apartment and moisture from improper window seals, and for two months last year their apartment had mold that was unaddressed by their landlord.
This year, they have also seen significant increases in their rent.
“In 2021, we were paying $640 for our apartment, and now we’re at $1,250,” Vafumba shares, “I didn’t think it was ethical to raise it so much in one year, so I started calling different government departments asking if that was right, but they really can do that.”
After a year of unprecedented financial strain, this family is working hard to achieve the security and stability that comes with homeownership. They are grateful to begin their journey to homeownership with Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.
“This program is a lifesaver,” Vafumba expresses, “With our rent increases and inflation happening so fast, there was no time to think and adjust. We’re looking forward to the stability in the monthly payments, not having to worry about what it’s going to be like in six months or a year.”
This family is excited for all the new opportunities homeownership will bring. In addition to discovering the peace of a healthier and more affordable environment, they are eager to adopt a kitten and have their first pet in their new home. Vafumba and Mabintou look forward to each of their kids finally having their own bedroom to study, grow and decorate as their own space.
Above all, they are excited to settle down and find stability and security in their forever home.