Mamo & Safiya – A New Country. A New Home.

July 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Mamo in front of their home in the Heritage Park neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Ethiopia. Kenya. United States. No, this is not the itinerary for an oversees vacation but the journey that Mamo Jale and Safiya Sani took on their path to homeownership in Minneapolis.

Originally from the Oromia region in Ethiopia, Mamo and Safiya left Ethiopia and traveled to Kenya as political refugees. During their 5-year stay in Kenya they dreamed of the United States for its freedoms and eventually settling in Minneapolis due to the large Oromo population already in residence. In 2004 Mamo arrived in Minneapolis, and Safiya joined Mamo in 2006.

A sponsorship by the International Institue of Minnesota, which provided English lessons and some job skills training, assisted both Mamo and Safiya in finding employment, and Safiya was able to obtain her driver’s license. However, homeownership eluded them for 6 years. Having come from a country where they owned a home as well as a small business, Mamo and Safiya were disappointed with the idea of renting an apartment long-term, but they were hesitant to pursue homeownership due to their unfamiliarity with the building codes in the United States. It was at this time that Mamo and Safiya learned of the CLCLT from a friend in the Oromo community, who also happened to be a CLCLT homeowner, and they began the application process.

Safiya says the assistance from the CLCLT in navigating the homebuying process was invaluable. “In Ethiopia all buildings are made of concrete. They last for a long, long time. We didn’t know about water damage or structure problems. There is [a] lot to know.”

After an exhaustive search of almost 30 homes, Mamo and Safiya were able to purchase a like-new, foreclosed home in the Heritage Park neighborhood in North Minneapolis. Safiya looks back fondly at the assistance she received from the CLCLT saying that the CLCLT not only advised them on buying a house but also on what to do if something happened to the house that they would not be able to manage on their own.

Even after having closed on their home, Mamo and Safiya still feel the support of the CLCLT. When their home needed an emergency repair before a large party, Safiya says that the CLCLT was available, even though it was after work hours, to provide Safiya with the necessary information to help resolve the problem. In fact, Safiya feels like the CLCLT is part of her family.

With the purchase of this home, Safiya and Mamo are able to entertain – and be entertained – by their children and grandchildren. According to Safiya both she and the grandchildren (5 years, 3 years, and 7 months) listen to music and dance, and run through the house without worrying about being too loud. Both Mamo and Safiya plan to continue their education and eventually hope to bring Safiya’s young son over from Ethiopia where he currently lives with his grandparents.

And while Mamo and Safiya say that they had a nice life in Ethiopia they feel that they have so much more freedom and opportunity here in Minneapolis. All that they need to do is work hard because they already live in a good neighborhood with neighbors they love. “We are happy. We are good.”

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