One Step Ahead: A Habitat Family Story

This story is a part of a series we are publishing called “Habitat Family Stories”. They’re the stories of our partner families from all walks of life in varying stages of their journey. Many of them have been in their Habitat homes for close to a decade. Get to know the families we work alongside by checking the “family story” tag

In 1993, Bahorey was invited to the U.S. by his uncle who wanted help importing foreign goods for his business. Bahorey used the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship while going back and forth between Gambia and New York. In 1997, he married his wife, Haja, whom he met during his time in Gambia. The couple had two children but it wasn’t until 2004 that the family was permanently reunited in the states.

Bahorey took ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and worked multiple jobs to try and stay afloat. He worked his way up from a dish washer at a Wendy’s to the assistant store manager before a friend encouraged him to move to the Seattle area. He started out as a janitor before taking a job fishing in Alaska. After four years away from his family, he found a job in Seattle as a machine operator working 12 hour shifts, three days a week. Since Haja and Bahorey’s first two children came to the states though, their family had grown from four members to nine and all of them were living in a 3 bedroom apartment.

Bahorey worried that they would get evicted, especially since his 9-year-old son, Ali, was autistic and often the center of disputes with the neighbors. It was through his son’s social worker that Bahorey first heard of Habitat for Humanity. When a friend who went through the Habitat partnering process encouraged him to apply, he was sold. By 2013, he was officially a part of the Habitat homeowner program.

By the time he received his qualification letter from Habitat, Bahorey was already looking for other apartments in anticipation of his family’s eviction. They sailed through their sweat equity hours, eager to move into a place they could call their own. “My wife did more hours than I did,” Bahorey told us. The family is still striving to get on stable footing. Instead of enrolling in college, their daughter Fatou is looking for part-time work. But Bahorey feels that the Habitat homeowner program prepared him and his wife for the responsibility of owning a home, especially in teaching them how to maintain and repair their house. It’s allowed Bahorey to move into more flexible, self-sustaining work as a taxi driver. It’s encouraged him to continue investing in his community, particularly in helping other immigrants adjust to life in the U.S. According to him, it’s given him more freedom, a safe place for his family and a chance at “the American Dream”.