At the close of 2021, a new home is what Malanda, Sela and their family count as their greatest blessing. Just a few years ago, though, having a new life and a home in Louisville, Kentucky, seemed only to be a distant dream. Malanda and Sela both grew up in the southern Kivu province of Eastern Congo. When war erupted in their village in 1996, each fled with their families to Tanzania. They met and fell in love in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp and were married in 2004.
As their new family began to grow with the birth of their oldest son, they were unsure if they would ever find home and peace apart from the camp. In November 2016, after nearly two decades of living in the camp, Malanda and Sela were finally resettled in Louisville with their four children, Washi, Finike, Kiza and Sifa.
Upon their arrival, they committed to saving as much money as they could to one day purchase their own home. After participating in ESL classes at KRM, Malanda and Sela went to work, taking opposite shifts so that they could care for their children.
After their fifth child, Roger, was born in 2019, they began to feel more financially ready to begin the process of homeownership. They worked closely with their KRM caseworker, Napoleon Akayezu, along with realtor and KRM staff member Charlotte Whitty, who helped them make the community connections needed to navigate a tight housing market and begin the search for the perfect home. Throughout this process and their time in Louisville, Malanda and Sela also remained very active in the Congolese Bembe community, supporting other newcomers who were arriving to the city, with Malanda recently becoming the leader of the community.
After months of meetings with Napoleon and searching with Charlotte, their bid was finally accepted on a house in Newburg, which had been their family’s community since their arrival in 2016. Their house closing was in September.
“I have a new sense of joy and pride,” Malanda shared. “I have peace of mind and heart now that we are here.”
Through support from the Kentucky Housing Corporation, KRM continues this work of making home through empowering newcomer families, like Malanda and Sela, to fulfill their dream of homeownership.
Story by Adrienne Eisenmenger