By Francis M. Badibanga, homeowner
This is a little story about my family and me. My name is Francis. I am married to my lovely wife, Nicole, and together we have four kids, one boy and three girls. We are originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); we moved to the U.S. in 2017. And today I am so grateful to God and happy because my dreams are coming true to be a homeowner through this program.
Coming from the DRC, I arrived in the U.S. on October 12, 2017. I had to leave my wife, who was six months pregnant, and our two children back home. We did not have enough money for the whole family. We had spent everything we had to enter the Diversity Visa Program lottery for a green card to come to the U.S. I had to come first and work hard to buy plane tickets for my whole family to join me.
After our family was reunited, we lived with friends for a few months before renting an apartment. Still, the idea to be homeowners had always been in our minds since we lived in the DRC.
One day, one of our children’s teachers told us about the Self-Help Homes program. The program captured our attention because of my background in the DRC, where I had worked in construction and also earned a construction certificate. That is when Nicole and I sat down and looked at the program and submitted our application. Months passed by and then COVID-19 came, which made us lose hope. We thought we were not qualified to be in the program.
We started looking for other options by contacting a realtor, but the process was too confusing for us as first-time homebuyers. We decided to email Self-Help Homes to find out if we were still in the program. We found out we were on the waiting list and that we were getting close to being called. This calmed our spirit and made us decide to wait for our turn.
Then the great news came to us in 2022 to come to the Self-Help office with all the documentation for the application. Then we got the news that we were qualified! This was a great joy for our family.
We started building the house in Salem! I was working 40 hours a week at my regular job, and 35 hours in the program to build our house and the houses for six other families. It has been very hard, especially considering the hard winter we’ve had this year!
Some of my friends would tell me to give up, but I kept a positive attitude and kept at it. My wife and I are believers in God. With our faith, we knew that even though the program was very hard, we also knew that the Lord wanted to help us to succeed. Now, we are almost finished building the house and completing the program, and I am grateful that my health didn’t fail during this difficult time. It felt like this was a miracle for me and it surprised my friends.
It has been wonderful for my family. We are excited to be able to move in in about a month. I am grateful and want to thank our supervisor, who knew how to direct and manage the work with all his expertise, including tools, codes, supplies, tasks, and people.
I want to thank Self-Help Homes for this program. It is a blessing for us to have our own place, where I can live with my own family. It has helped me to learn and add a lot of knowledge about how to build a house here in the United States, which is very different from the way we build a home in my country.
I am grateful for the other families with whom we worked together with so much cohesion because they are all people with full joy and light, I consider them as family, and I know we will be great neighbors.
I would like to invite anyone who reads this – if you have a desire to build a house for your family, to investigate this program by yourself and see if it would help you to accomplish that objective. I promise you it will be wonderful!
Thank you for the opportunity to share our story.
Francis M. Badibanga
Also in this issue of Self-Help Builder:
- Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP): Pictures are worth a thousand words – a photo montage
- Habitat for Humanity of Seattle King County give a hand up with with first building group
- Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation: Through Blood, Sweat, Tears, Missile Threats & Lava Flows – a homeowner’s journey
- Housing America Corporation (HAC): Celebrating Homeownership Month and 2,000 Self-Help homes this year! (PDF)
- Housing America Corporation (HAC): Festeja HAC con más familias beneficiadas el Mes de la Vivienda Propia (Bajo El Sol)
- Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity: 125 affordable homes, 16 years in the making (Kaua’i News Now)
- NeighborWorks Sacramento: Celebrating life-changing achievements (PDF)
- Self-Help Enterprises: Welcome Home Celebration in Orosi! (Self-Help Enterprises)
- Six County Association of Governments: In Their Own Words – a homeowner story
- South Central Community Action Partnership: Celebrating 100 homes – a homeowner’s experience
- Whatcom-Skagit Housing: Nine families move in, more than 700 completed (Lynden Tribune)