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African refugees find new home in Fairborn

A family of African refugees have found their new home in Fairborn.

The Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton to build a home for the Yoniyo family. The home, located on East Emerson Avenue in Fairborn, was finished this month and the family moved in soon after.

A dedication ceremony for the family’s new house was celebrated on Friday.

The family was able to purchase their new home from Habitat for Humanity through an ongoing partnership involving training classes, volunteer hours and other requirements. Emmanuel, 33, and Nema, 25, Yoniyo married in 2011 in the U.S., and were living in a small house in Huber Heights with their three children.

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But, both Emmanuel and Nema went on separate, harrowing journeys to escape the Rwandan genocide as children back in the early ’90s. To escape the genocide in Rwanda, Emmanuel’s family moved to Zaire in 1994, where they were housed in a refugee camp for eight months.

His family then moved to Senegal, and it was there the United Nations helped them get to the United States. Nema, also from Rwanda, escaped to the Congo with her family. Their housing situation has changed multiple times since they’ve moved to the U.S., once living in an apartment in the area that was flooded and caused damaged to their belongings.

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The family heard about the Habitat program through friends, and has benefited in ways beyond new housing. The program teaches families about financial responsibility, owning and caring for a home, and provides credit counseling and budgeting resources, said David Mauch, director of family services. Two-parent families do about 550 hours of volunteer work, or “sweat equity,” to pay for the home.

Habitat for Humanity has served Montgomery and Greene counties for the past 28 years, and they’ve helped more than 180 families become homeowners. That’s more than 470 children with a new roof over their heads.

“It’s not just building a house,” Mauch told this news organization. “It’s building a family.”

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