When he was a boy in Ethiopia, Ana Ibrahim prayed for three things — a bike, to reunite with his parents, and to move to America. When he was very young, Ana’s mother died in Ethiopia and his Aunt cared for him while his father and stepmother moved to the U.S. in 2001 for a better life. He was able to reunite with them in 2009, but when his father and stepmother divorced, Ana chose to live with his stepmother and half-sister Hajo in the Seattle area. “I’m a grown up now and I want to take care of my mother and sister,” Ana says.
The Ibrahim family, Mother Habiba, sister Hajo and Ana have moved four times since 2015 from rental housing either because rents continually increased beyond their budget, or the neighborhood was dangerous … or both. Says Ana, “Any time we bought furniture, we had to make sure it wasn’t heavy, because we knew we’d be moving it soon.” In September, they’ll move into their own three-bedroom home in Highland Terrace, West Seattle, thanks to Habitat. And they won’t have to move again.
As Muslims, they originally chose the Seattle area because, “it celebrates diversity and provides you with many opportunities you won’t easily find anywhere else,” says Ana. They have made the most of those opportunities. Habiba works nights as a custodian, Hajo is a full-time student and, after completing his education in 2020, Ana landed his current job as an IT support professional for a Seattle law firm. The Ibrahims applied for a Habitat home once before being accepted; it was the addition of Ana’s income that made them eligible for a home this time.
After working a full five days each week, the family spends Saturdays helping to build their new home. It’s worth the effort, they declare. They are grateful to Habitat for giving them a place they can finally call home, where they don’t have to worry about the unpredictable rent increases and the regular struggle to find a safe place within their budget. “The comfort of knowing you finally own a home is something indescribable,” says Ana. “It will definitely be a new chapter in our life where we can find the relief of knowing we never have to move again.”
The mortgage for their Habitat home will be slightly less than their current rent, and they’re excited about building some wealth for the future.
Ana has already found his favorite restaurant in their new neighborhood and he’s looking forward to exploring more. Habiba is enthusiastic about cooking more in her new kitchen and Hajo will continue her henna hobby in the safety of their own home.
Persistence has paid off for the Ibrahims. “Try to do better than yesterday,” is their motto, and it’s already promising better tomorrows for them thanks to Habitat.