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Local Sudanese family to get new home
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Apr 7, 2010 - 6:15:14 AM

Local Sudanese family to get new home


Ryan Miller/The Daily Iowan
Amir Ali, 3, son of Entisar and Motasim Ali, explores the Iowa City lot that was host to a groundbreaking ceremony for his family’s new house on Tuesday.
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After more than five years of trying to establish themselves in America, a local Sudanese family are on the verge of obtaining a key part of their American Dream: owning a home.

During a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday evening, Motasim and Entisar Ali and their three children stood amid a small crowd on the cement foundation of their future home.

“Whatever I say, I can’t describe what I am feeling right now,” Entisar Ali said as the ceremony came to a close.

The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent Builds Homes hosted the groundbreaking ceremony on the Alis’ future property.

“When you have your own home, you can do whatever you want in it,” Entisar Ali said. She looks forward to decorating and having a place for her children to play freely.

The Alis’ home will become one of more than 350,000 built by Habitat for Humanity since 1976.

And the house’s completion in August will mark the end of a decade-long effort to build a foundation in the U.S.

On a trip to the U.S. in 2001, Entisar Ali decided she wanted to make the United States her permanent home. However, residence here didn’t come easily; it took months for Entisar Ali to navigate federal bureaucracy to be OK’d to live here.

A year later, on a trip to visit family in Sudan, Entisar Ali married Mo Ali, whom she had dated for two years. While Mo Ali waited for a green card in Africa, Entisar Ali visited a friend in Iowa City, where she got a job at Wal-Mart and made Iowa City her new home.

Mo Ali joined her shortly thereafter, receiving a green card a year after applying. The couple said they started from scratch to build a life and family, determined to lead better lives than they had in Sudan.

Kasie Ver Schuure, the director of resource development at Habitat for Humanity, said the Ali family is well deserving of the new home.

“They’ve come to the U.S. to seek better opportunities,” Ver Schuure said. “They are both really great, hardworking people so we’re just giving them a hand off to what they deserve.”

The cost of building the house is being split three ways: Thrivent Builds Homes — which has provided almost $120 million to similar projects in the last six years — will pay 65 percent, Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity will pay 25 percent, and seven local Lutheran churches will cover the other 10 percent.

Mike Moran, who works for both Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity and the Johnson County Thrivent Board, has helped build six Habitat for Humanity homes with which Thrivent has been involved.

“It’s always a blast to help build the homes,” he said. “It’s fun to work side by side with people, and it’s very rewarding.”

DI reporter Holly Hines contributed to this report.

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