“There was a lot of gang activity.” says twelve-year-old Winner, describing life in the
two-bedroom apartment he shared with his parents and his two siblings in East Charlotte. “We didn’t want to get involved, so when my dad said we were going to move, I was happy that we didn’t have to be there anymore.”
Winner’s parents, Macky and Yvette became permanent residents of the United States in November of 2012, having moved with their two sons, Winner and Gael, and their daughter, Eliab, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in search of a more stable future.
The DRC has a violent and war-torn history that it is still recovering from today. Most recently, the Second Congo War, which officially ended in 2003 and involved nine African countries and twenty-five armed groups. The war and its aftermath resulted in the death of nearly 5.4 million people, mostly through disease and starvation and is considered to be the deadliest conflict in the world since WWII.
Having worked as an Engineer in the Congo, Macky was able to secure a job as a Maintenance Technician and Yvette works in a warehouse. Despite both of their full-time incomes, the only apartment they could afford was a small, two-bedroom in a not-so-nice neighborhood.
Macky recounts one night, “I was working the night shift and my wife and my daughter were sleeping in the bedroom, and someone started shooting around the apartment complex and a bullet went through our living room into the bedroom.” Luckily no one was hurt. But desperate to make a change, the family learned about Greater Matthews Habitat for Humanity. They applied and were accepted into the program.
This February, we began construction on Macky, Yvette's home, where they and their will find the safety and security they’ve been searching for all these years. “We’ve been waiting for this house for so long”, Macky says. “I know that with a Habitat house, we will have the chance to save money and get farther as a family.”