Tefera Ashigo has moved more times than most people can even imagine.
“We moved apartment to apartment, country to country,” said Ashigo, who moved to Canada from South Africa five years ago. “Always, you’re moving.”
Ashigo is originally from Ethiopia, but had to leave after political issues forced him and his wife Woinshet Tumebo to leave. But South Africa had its own challenges, especially a high crime rate.
“There’s a lot of criminal activity in South Africa” Ashigo said. “I moved from my country to South Africa because of the politics, but there was too much crime. Even police attacked us.”
They found a safer home in Ottawa, and now live in Nepean in an apartment with their two daughters, ages 4 and 2. They’ve been forced to move apartments several times for a variety of reasons, such as when repairs needed to be done.
Now, their lively girls draw complaints from neighbours for being too active inside when they play, but they don’t have a backyard to play in.
But Ashigo and Tumebo have been approved to purchase a Habitat for Humanity home in Orléans, and will finally get a permanent place to call home this winter – as well as a backyard for their girls to play.
“We’re excited because we’re going to love to live in the house,” he said. “(For my daughters) this is their own home. They have freedom, they have a future, they’re safe. I’m so excited.”
He currently works as a school board custodian, so he’s been able to come out in the afternoons before work to complete the sweat equity hours required by Habitat to move into the house.
Home owners through Habitat are required to complete their hours before purchasing their home, which they pay for through a zero-interest payment plan.
Ashigo said he’s been happy to come and work on the house, and takes pride in knowing he physically built parts of the house that his family will eventually live in. When work needs to be done on the other houses, which three other families will purchase through Habitat for Humanity National Capital Region, he’ll gladly jump in and work on those as well.
And he’s excited that if his house ever needs any repairs, a landlord won’t ask them to move – he’ll be happy to fix things himself.
And most of all, happy to be in a permanent home his daughters can grow up in.
“My kids, they are very small,” he said. “But when they grow up, they will be very happy.”