When Is a House a Home?

When you get right down to it, a house is just an empty box until people move in. Then it is a home. So, we would like to introduce you to the family that will move into one of the houses currently under construction.

The oldest of the family’s three daughters, Olivia Manirafasha, now 17 years old, was introduced to a Shelter Them team from Canada in 2012. Olivia could not walk, she could only drag herself along the ground, and the team had brought some wheelchairs donated in Canada. The hope was that Olivia would be able to use one of the chairs to get around, but when the team saw the family’s living conditions, they realized right away that the wheelchair would be useless. The muddy, uneven, hilly streets would make navigating a wheelchair impossible. And the building where the family lived could not be called a house or a home. It was a hovel. What was to be done? Well, Shelter Them found rented accommodation for the family and Olivia became the first child in the Shelter Them sponsorship program. Today, all three daughters have sponsors who help to support the family.

But family support did not end there. Shelter Them paid for physical therapy to address Olivia’s physical disability and paid to send her to a special school which could address her intellectual needs. She can now walk unassisted, and she has sat for the primary national exam.

But the girls’ parents do not want to live on charity. They wanted the skills to be able to support their daughters themselves. So, Mom joined the sewing cooperative, where she has acquired marketable skills. Dad has found employment helping to build the community centre and the new houses in Gateko, where the family has recently moved, and does some farming as well. And Shelter Them has also helped the family through the serious illness of the youngest daughter, Kevine, who had acquired a serious bone and blood disorder.

So, considering all that this family has been through and how they have worked to build a new life for themselves, it is easy to see how quickly they will turn this house into a home. It is interesting that just by changing one letter, we can turn the word ‘home’ into ‘hope’. So, you could say that Shelter Them is not in the housing business. Instead, we are in the business of building hope. And do you know the best part? When the family is given the key to their new home, both Olivia and Kevine will be able to walk through the front door!