the ndayarinze-iddi family

Rusimbana Ndayarinze knows owning a home is the easy part. Buying a home was the challenge. He knows this because his family has been living in their new home at Habitat’s Glisan Gardens community in Gresham for nearly a year now. Now the small things like mowing the lawn or making repairs feel easy compared to where his family came from.

Rusimbana’s family fled the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996 at the beginning of the Congolese Civil War. They walked for two months, eventually ending up in Tanzania, where they found the opportunity to come to the U.S. through a refugee resettlement program.

“We started to enjoy the American Dream when we were working and paying rent from our own money,” Rusimbana told Habitat when he first applied for a home. “We were happy to arrive in a country where people have real love and hospitality.”

But the cost of living in Portland meant the family was moving a lot. Chasing affordable rent meant the young children had already changed schools twice, and the family was still living in a cramped apartment with leaky plumbing and standing water. Through a friend, he heard about Habitat for Humanity, and applied, hoping a new home would give his children the future they deserve.

Rusimbana and his wife Birahma were excited to get to work on their new home, and to provide stability for their children. “We want our children to stay in the same school,” he said. “We want them to know this is our home forever.” Rusimbana regularly spoke to volunteers on build sites, telling his family story and how Habitat had given them a chance to live their own American Dream.

The family’s new home is located at Glisan Gardens, a 21-home community in Gresham’s Rockwood neighborhood. Before moving, Rusimbana lamented the lack of community around his family’s apartment. “No one talks with their neighbors, there’s nothing to bring people together,” he said.

Now, the Ndayarinze family lives in a supportive community. Twenty one other families live at Glisan Gardens, with a playground to soon be completed on site for his children to enjoy. The new home allows his children a quiet place to study; Sumaia wants to be a doctor and Bahia wants to be a superhero. With a safe, stable place to call home, Rusimbana can look at his children and know they have the opportunity to grow up to be whoever they want, even a superhero.