Fairborn business helps family with dream of home

A family of African refugees who escaped the Rwandan genocide will have a new place to call home in Fairborn.

The Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Great Dayton to build a home for the Yoniyo family. The house is set for completion in March.

Emmanuel, 33, and Nema, 25, Yoniyo married in 2011 in the U.S., and now live in a small house in Huber Heights with their three children: Emmanuela, 4, Renee, 2, and Elijah, 9 months old. But, both Emmanuel and Nema went on separate, harrowing journeys to escape the Rwandan genocide as children back in the early ’90s.

Back in 1994, an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered in the east-central African country. Emmanuel’s family fled to Zaire, just west of Rwanda. From there, he moved to Senegal where the United Nations helped his family get to the U.S.

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Nema, also from Rwanda, escaped to the Congo and then to Burundi — and finally to Missouri. There, she met Emmanuel at a friend’s wedding, who moved to Dayton in 2002. Nema moved here in 20111, and then the family — with their young brood of children — bounced around from apartment to house in the area.

One apartment, damaged by flooding, was hardly inhabitable. The family heard about the Habitat for Humanity program from a friend, and saw it as a saving grace of stability. The program builds or rehabs homes for low-income families through a no-profit, zero-interest mortgage. Partner families pay a down payment and a monthly mortgage, which goes back into a fund to help build more houses.

“It’s much better schools in Fairborn,” Nema Yoniyo said.

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.

“We are doing well managing money, but we are still trying to perfect our knowledge in the area of good nutrition,” Nema Yoniyo said.

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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. According to the organization, it cost about $90,000 to $100,000 in materials and contract labor to build one home with three bedrooms and one bathroom.

Mauch said providing a house gives children a stable environment to grow and develop in. They stay at the same school and have the same friends and educators. They build a life, he said.

“It’s not just building a house,” Mauch said. “It’s building a family.”

Staff members from the Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn, located at 2800 Presidential Drive, have rolled up their sleeves over the last few weeks to help in building the new home.

“With an understanding and passion for what it takes to provide homey accommodations at the hotel, our goal here is to take it a step further and give these community members a real home,” said Caitlin Garber, business transient manager for the Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn.

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Two large groups of employees — both men and women — volunteered their time on several occasions to help construct a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in Fairborn. Throughout the project, the group of Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn workers managed to erect the home’s exterior and interior walls, siding and roof.

Nema Yoniyo said she was excited for the children to have their rooms, where they won’t all be cramped next to each other. Emmanuel Yoniyo, who drives trucks for a living, it’s a new start for the family in Dayton.

A dedication event is being planned for March 2017, at which time Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn staff will present the home to the family along with other household appliances they are donating.

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