Nang Phong remembers feeling excited and happy when she found out her family had been selected for Habitat for Humanity’s Progressive Home Ownership programme.
Five years ago, the San family – Nang Phong, her husband Zaw Mai, and their three children, Shong, Jack, and Mia (a baby at the time) – moved into their home, beginning the rental phase of their Progressive Home Ownership journey.
While the house was being built, Nang Phong would often visit the build site with her children to see the progress.
“Every time, my kids were asking when we can move into this house. They were so happy, already saying ‘I want this room’,” remembers Nang Phong.
Zaw also spent a lot of time on site, helping build the house as part of his sweat equity – a contribution of labour and time that each of Habitat’s Progressive Home Ownership families commit to. He proudly remembers helping with many tasks, including digging holes, hanging Gib, and painting the exterior of the house.
Prior to moving into their Habitat home, the family had been living in an old, cold, and damp house, and it was having a significant impact on their health – particularly for their children.
“At the old house, I remember being at the hospital a lot,” says Nang Phong.
Their son has asthma which was aggravated by their living conditions, and Nang Phong and Zaw were concerned their younger daughter, Mia, who has a heart condition, would develop asthma, too.
Five years on, living in their new house has had a big impact on the family’s health. Their warm and dry home means their kids, now aged 13, 9, and 7, are healthy. Jack’s asthma has improved, Mia is thriving, and older daughter Shong’s eczema improved not long after they moved in.
Reaching the five-year milestone means Nang Phong and Zaw are moving from the rental stage into the long-term sale and purchase agreement phase, one step closer to independent home ownership. The motivation to provide a healthy and safe place for their kids to live inspires them to keep working towards their goal of being homeowners.
Originally from Burma, Nang Phong and Zaw moved to New Zealand as refugees.
“We’re really looking forward to buying this house. It means we can feel relaxed – there’s no need to move.”
Nang Phong explains this is a like a dream house for their kids. They like that it’s warm and has a lovely view, and they all attend the nearby local schools. The family are garden enthusiasts and have planted a flourishing vegetable garden in beds down one side of their sloping section, and flowers leading up to their main door.
While five years initially seemed like a long time, they say the rental stage in their home has gone by very fast.
“We’re happy. Thank you, Habitat, for looking after our family.”