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Lexington Habitat for Humanity provides family of refugees with home, hope, security

Special to KyForward

Two things have given African refugee Chantal Botakile inspiration. First is her children, both honor students at Henry Clay High School. Her daughter, Merdi, already is taking classes at Bluegrass Community and Technical College and plans to eventually go to medical school and become a pediatrician. Her son, Jevic, plans to become an engineer.

Chantel with her daughter, Merdi. (Photo from Lexington Habitat for Humanity)

Second is the hope that one day she will be reunited with her husband, who was forced to part from his family on the day they fled from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Chantal and her children lived in a refugee camp in Uganda for four years before they came to the United States in March of 2011.

Now, she has one more thing to give her hope.

Chantal and her children will become homeowners in 2013, thanks to Lexington Habitat for Humanity and the generosity of sponsors and volunteers. Talking about her new home brings Chantal to tears.

“I don’t have the English words to tell you how big my happiness is,” she said. “I am so happy I can’t sleep and when I sleep I dream about it.”

Chantal, who holds a political science degree from a university in Africa, currently works in food service at the University of Kentucky. She and her children attend Ekklesia Christian Life Fellowship Church. She said she is grateful for the opportunity to raise her children in a home of their own, especially after they lived in horrible conditions at the refugee camp. She also hopes that one day she and her children will be reunited with her husband.

“I pray for him every day,” she said. “I pray that God will keep him safe, and that he will see his children one day happy in a new home.”

Chantal and her family will be building in partnership with home sponsors Larry & Kitty Parker. Volunteers from various colleges through the Collegiate Challenge program will help kick off this remodel build in February.

From Lexington Habitat for Humanity

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