Single mother receives key to Wheaton home from DuPage Habitat

  • Buba and her family stand by their new front door after cutting the ribbon at the Feb. 22 dedication. She came to America as a 19-year-old refugee with only her 50-year-old mother, 3-year-old daughter and her clothes.

    Buba and her family stand by their new front door after cutting the ribbon at the Feb. 22 dedication. She came to America as a 19-year-old refugee with only her 50-year-old mother, 3-year-old daughter and her clothes. Courtesy of Sharana Mueller

Updated 3/9/2019 12:17 AM

On Friday, Feb. 22, Buba finally received the key to her new home, after hundreds of hours of sweat equity and years of uncertainty after leaving Sudan.

At the dedication of her home, she thanked staff and volunteers for their hard work on the home, saying "I want to thank all of you guys for being here for me and my family. We promise to take good care of this home and make great memories in it."


Over 30 people came to the Wheaton home to celebrate and welcome Buba.

After arriving in America five years ago, Buba felt unstable and worried about the future of her family.

"At one point, I was like, 'Why did I come to this country?' I thought, 'I might need to go back, because I just can't live like this.' There was no home here, and I couldn't even have afforded the rent by working two full-time jobs."

Buba genuinely thought that living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia would have been better than trying to afford the rent in DuPage County.

Buba came to America as a 19-year-old refugee, with only her 50-year-old mother, 3-year-old daughter and her clothes. In fact, her family had been refugees since before she was born in Sudan. She knew that within three months of her arrival, she needed to find a job and become self-sufficient.

When they first arrived in the Chicago area, they lived with Buba's uncle, but soon afterward he lost his job and moved away, leaving them to cover the rent alone.

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She just couldn't afford it. They were homeless for a short period of time because even the rent for a one-bedroom apartment was impossible.

They lived with a friend who had his own one-bedroom, turning the living room into their own space.

During this time, Buba was working full-time while also trying to get a degree, and considered quitting school just so she could work more hours to try and make things a little better for her family.

Buba says, "The reason I came to this country is to have a better life, so I decided, 'I'm going to go to school, graduate, have a better job, take care of myself, and my mom and daughter.' And I want to be an example for my daughter, a role model."

Part of setting an example for her daughter, Siyanda, is finding a solid, stable home for her to grow up in. Buba says moving the family four different times has really started to take a toll on Siyanda, 8, who has changed schools all four times. After they moved in with Buba's friend, they were forced to pull Siyanda out of pre-K and have one of the teachers stop by once a week to work with her. She loves school and they've made every sacrifice to make sure she keeps going, but Siyanda loves her friends as well, and always has a hard time leaving them when she changes schools. It hasn't been an easy journey for a young girl.


Buba soon found a transitional housing and mentorship program, and her luck started to turn. They offered her a place with affordable rent, making it possible for her to continue her classes and only work part-time until she had her degree. Even with some of the burden lifted, Buba still had to persevere through long days at work, school, and home.

When Buba found out she could work for her own home through DuPage Habitat, she knew it was a blessing and the perfect match for her can-do, will-do attitude. She knew that her family deserved more. This inspired her to complete her homeowner training sessions and work tirelessly toward their new home. She was so excited by the opportunity she saw for her family, and determined to get things rolling as quickly as possible, that she performed her 250 sweat equity hours in just over three months. She admits it was tough, but her inspiration kept her going. She wants a better life for her daughter: "A stable house, to be stable financially, and better security for her."

A decent and affordable home can remove barriers to opportunity, success, and health that might have been part of the family's life for years, if not generations. Cost burden is associated with less housing stability, including repeated moves.

Frequent or unplanned childhood moves reduce achievement and can set whole classrooms behind. When families partner with DuPage Habitat they're able to purchase an affordable home that gives them the strength and independence they need to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Buba can finally promise her daughter they will never have to move again, thanks to support from DuPage Habitat for Humanity, and the stability they will have through their new home.

The DuPage Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1995 by Dick and Florence Nogaj as a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, and a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical, Christian movement dedicated to building and selling homes in partnership with limited-income, hardworking families.

Governed by a local volunteer board of directors, DuPage Habitat lowers homebuilding costs by relying primarily on volunteer time to build and renovate homes, to run many of our critical operations and to provide supportive services to our partner families. Since 1995, DuPage Habitat has helped more than 500 people obtain a safer place to sleep at night, along with the strength, stability, and independence to build better lives. Their goal is to serve an additional 68 people this fiscal year. In 2017, DuPage Habitat for Humanity's ReStore diverted over 750 tons of usable materials from landfills. To volunteer, donate or get involved in their mission visit

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