Amina Lohus and her children worked for years to get to the point where they could stand in front of a brand new house and officially call it "home."
Their new home was constructed by Two Rivers Habitat for Humanity in Southwest Rochester. The organization held a reception for the family Thursday evening.
"Coming from Africa, and then coming to America and moving around a lot, and not feeling that we belong somewhere, we feel we belong here," said Ifrah Ali, one of Lohus' daughters. "And now we have a house."
Several members of the family were volunteers for Habitat for Humanity before they were applicants. Ifrah said they believe it's important to give back to the community. Once their own house came under construction, they set to work on that, as well.
The process took a little longer than expected with the pandemic. But, eventually, they made it.
Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden said the project is a good example of finding ways to create affordable housing options in Rochester. At roughly 1,850 square feet, the home has five bedrooms and two bathrooms.
"The idea for how to do this came actually from a spur-of-the-moment conversation during a county board meeting," she said. "We had before us properties that were being foreclosed and going to a sheriff's sale. We said to our staff, 'Why aren't we making these properties available to the not-for-profit community?' "
A widow with seven children, Lohus moved to the United States from Kenya and landed in Utah in 2009. At the time, she didn't realize she was pregnant. From there, they packed up their few belongings and headed to Rochester to receive care from Mayo Clinic for her son who suffered from seizures.
Using her still-developing command of English, Deko Ali, Lohus' oldest daughter, described their journey on the bus that brought them across the country from Utah.
"Everyone folded their clothes and their dishes together. And then everyone take a backpack. And then everyone has one blanket and one pillow. And then we just left," she said.
The family moved to Minnesota in 2012. Since then, it's been a matter of working and saving enough to get to the point that they could even be eligible for their newly constructed Habitat for Humanity home. Gifted money, earned money. Everything went toward establishing themselves.
And now, after years of hard work, they officially have a home of their own.
"I cannot put words (to it). There's a very supportive community," Deko Ali said about the family's adopted community of Rochester. "This house is carrying a lot of blessing."