Sharaf Siddig was scarred by the long and bloody civil war in his home country of Sudan.
A bullet drew a deep line across the left side of his slim torso. Other scars are not visible but still very painful. It’s a long story and he doesn’t want to talk about it, he said, covering his face with his hands.
“There is peace here,” Siddig said. “That’s good.”
On Friday, Siddig and his wife, Mona Awasa, received the keys to their Habitat for Humanity house on East 22nd Avenue – a home with enough room for their four young children and a huge backyard.
“The place was just packed with people,” said Michone Preston, CEO of Habitat for Humanity-Spokane. “It’s the 250th home we have built in Spokane County.”
The home was funded and built by volunteers from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and volunteers from area Lutheran churches alongside volunteers from Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church.
Preston said the home is well-insulated and features radiant floor heating.
“We don’t think it’s going to cost more than $200 a year to heat this house,” Preston said.
Siddig beamed with pride as he gave a tour of the empty home.
“For one week I did not sleep at all. I was so excited we are getting the keys,” he said. “Yes, it feels like home.”
In 2002, Siddig left Sudan in search of a better life in the United States or Australia.
He ended up in a refugee camp in Egypt where he met and married Mona Awasa. The couple’s oldest daughter, Ranin, was born in the camp.
In 2006, the small family’s journey continued to Spokane.
Refugee programs helped them settle here, find their way around and learn the language.
“So many people help us,” Siddig said.
They both work in maintenance and cleaning services at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
Twin girls Malaz and Muzzau were born in 2011, and in December the couple had a baby boy.
“They work opposite shifts so one parent is always home with the children,” Preston explained.
Another Habitat for Humanity home next door will also be occupied by a family of African refugees.
“We have learned that it helps to have refugees in small groups,” Preston said. “They support each other better.”
Siddig learned about Habitat for Humanity soon after arriving in Spokane and he immediately began volunteering for the organization. The first time he applied for a home he was rejected.
“I make too much money then,” he said.
But as his family grew he continued to apply until he was approved.
Habitat homes are financed by zero-interest mortgages and require the family to put in at least 500 volunteer hours on the home as it’s being built.
“I come back and come back,” Siddig said. “I keep going and going. I will not stop.”
Siddig and Awasa saved up money to pay closing costs on the home at the same time they saved up to take the entire family on a monthlong visit to Sudan.
They are leaving this month.
“It’s safe. We go to the big city,” Siddig said. “We don’t go to the countryside.”
When they return they will move into their new home.
And Siddig will continue to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
“You see all the homeless here? Habitat can help them,” Siddig said.
Why does he want to continue to volunteer?
He wants to give back to all the people who’ve helped him.
“The work is not done,” Siddig said.
“The work is not done. I will not stop.”