Husam and Noor, along with their 5 year-old daughter, Natalee, are the proud new owners of  a Habitat home in the El Cajon Foundation Lane Community.

Husam and Noor understand what it feels like to live in a community without security, peace and stability. They came to the United States as refugees from Iraq 3 ½ years ago to escape constant chaos, strife and danger. Husam and Noor had to move many times prior to this, from Iraq to Libya to Syria, to escape daily bombings, fear and sirens sounding; they constantly prayed for safety.  They were not free to practice their Christian faith and it was a period in their lives they will never forget. They are so grateful to be residing in the United States now. “Smelling the fragrance of peace is such a blessing.  Unless you lose it, you will not feel how significant it is.  We cherish this blessing of being in a safe country.” The family is excited to learn about American culture and see how their family values as well as dedication to strengthening their lives and the neighboring community very much align.  Their new home will help to create a safe and stable life for them where no suffering will be passed along to their daughter.

Without Habitat for Humanity, Husam and Noor know that owning a home would have been unattainable for at least 10 to 12 more years. For the past 3 years, they have been living in a small 2- bedroom apartment in El Cajon, encountering many difficulties with reoccurring pest control problems, noise disturbances, excessive maintenance issues, which Husam often took on apartment repairs himself, as well as security problems with car break-ins and an unsafe play area for Natalee. Their life was made even more difficult than it needed to be.

Husam is an Implementation Specialist assisting with networking and computer issues in many states.  Noor received her Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Benghazi in Libya, and is now in the process of passing the 4 required exams here in the U.S. to pursue her pharmacy dream. “Indeed, with faith, perseverance and passion, no desire will fade away,” she writes.

Husam and Noor are childhood  “sweethearts” that grew up together playing in her grandmother’s garden and now look forward to planting a permanent garden in their new home together. This garden will give them a peace and nostalgia of fond childhood memories.  In fact, for part of Noor’s sweat equity, she loved watering and nurturing all the plants in the new neighborhood.  The family likes to make big breakfasts together and then go hiking to discover San Diego.  Some of their favorite hiking places are Torrey Pines, Lake Jennings and Lake Murray.  “The mountain breeze makes you feel so alive.”

Natalee is in first grade and has so much enthusiasm for life. She loves to learn and spend time with her new friends. Noor says she never stops talking and teaches them correct pronunciations of words.  Natalee enjoys the afterschool programs, participating in Spanish, soccer and dance. She was a part of the Heartlight dance group of San Diego performing at the Del Mar fair, where the whole family was able to watch, making everyone smile.  She took piano and violin lessons, and Noor discussed how this is a very rare privilege in Iraq.  They both want Natalee to be stronger, smarter and to experience opportunities they only wished for growing up.  Noor says that like “throwing a coin in a fountain or making a wish upon a star, this is what we hope for with our daughter growing up in America in our family home.

Husam and Noor continually work to reach their goals and have been saving to adjust to the new costs related to owning a home.  In Husam’s own words, “Becoming a homeowner will offer me serenity and peace of mind. As long as I rent a home, my life is unstable as the owner can force me to leave the house. I strive to provide my family with whatever they need emotionally, physically and financially.  Most of my everyday hopes, wishes and prayers are addressed to their safety, well-being, contentment, settlement and everlasting continuous love.”  And Noor added, “When you are renting, you feel unstable, unsettled and not permanent.” This home will be a dream come true.

The family has already met their new El Cajon neighbors at a family potluck gathering and can’t wait to see Natalee develop new friendships, knowing that they will grow up together.  They delighted in the diverse ethnic food and agreed to teach each other their languages and recipes. Husam and Noor shared their family journey with the deepest of emotions and gratitude. As Noor so eloquently says, “I want to chronicle our story correctly with all the emotion and gratitude that we have for San Diego Habitat for Humanity, all of its volunteers and those who blessed us with a stable and safe life after such turmoil.  They have made my daughter and us very happy, and this is erasing all of the bad memories that we have and healing our wounds. We have many family blessings.”