Mislaydi’s new life after 5 years in her Habitat home

Story by Kathy Oxborrow

Cuban native, Mislaydi Garcia-Ollet, loves the connection she and her family share with her fellow Habitat homeowners in her neighborhood. Mislaydi lived in the same house in Cuba until the age of 12 when her family moved to the U.S. That stability was important to her and she believes her six-year-old son Alessandro is experiencing that same benefit because of his Habitat home. “It’s like a community here,” she said. “Everyone gets along really well.”

The families celebrate their children’s birthdays together and accompany each other on trips. She is especially grateful that Alessandro has so many friends to play with in the Habitat community.

Before they moved into their Habitat home in June 2012 they were living in an apartment in which Pablo, Mislaydi’s husband, suffered from allergies and asthma due to the unhealthy conditions within the unit.

“He would get nose bleeds and have trouble breathing,” Mislaydi said. This caused visits to the emergency room.

The family knew they needed to find a safer place to live but didn’t think they could afford to buy. Mislaydi was in college, and with only Pablo’s income as a pipe layer they didn’t think they would qualify for a mortgage. Then Mislaydi discovered Habitat through an internet search and they were on their way to finding a safe and affordable home.

Their Habitat home has brought stability to their lives and Pablo no longer has asthma attacks.  The family has settled into a life free from worry about becoming ill or being uprooted because of spiking rents. “Our Habitat home has made a tremendous change in our lives,” she said. Pablo’s job is secure and Mislaydi is now working for a biotech company after graduating with a degree in biology. Alessandro likes everything about school and is thriving in math – his favorite subject. After school he takes piano lessons and plays in the playhouse his father built in the backyard.

Mislaydi spreads the word to other families about Habitat and how important it has been to her family. She said working with Habitat is better than getting a conventional mortgage because, “Not only do we have a house, but we have a community here.”

The community is very tight-knit. Mislaydi joins the neighbor kids every morning at the bus stop. “When one of the kids is not behaving, I’m like the mom and I make sure they are doing the right thing,” she said smiling. Because she’s no longer worried about the well-being of her family and she feels secure in her Habitat home, she’s ready to pursue her next goal—becoming a family practice doctor. “All the good things in my life now are related to this house,” she said. Eventually she plans to attend medical school. If the determination she’s demonstrated so far is any indication, there’s no doubt she will achieve that goal.

Photos by Ben Stewart