When Flora Mohammed’s husband left her, she didn’t know where to turn for help. Mohammed, who fled her native war-torn country of Sudan in 2011 to come to North Carolina, had five children, no job and limited English skills.
For a while, Mohammed and her children, ages 7 to 15, stayed with a friend in Cary. But they needed permanent housing, and Mohammed, 40, needed a source of income.
She’s come a long way since then.
On Wednesday, Mohammed celebrated her new home near Southeast Raleigh, thanks to a collaboration of local nonprofit groups. The house was built by Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.
In 2012, Mohammed’s friend, Josephine Labib, referred her to Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network, a nonprofit that provides shelter, food, case management and educational services to homeless families.
Mohammed was part of the network’s emergency shelter program, in which 62 local churches open up their buildings periodically throughout the year to house homeless families.
Each week, 10 families get meals, shelter and transportation through the emergency shelter effort.
After completing the eight-week emergency program, Mohammed became the first person to take part in New Lease on Life, a program through the Triangle Apartment Association that aims to help homeless families find rental housing at discounted rates.
Mohammed and her children lived in an apartment in Raleigh for a little more than a year while she worked at a local nursing home.
As required by the program, Mohammed saved 30 percent of her monthly earnings. She also attended courses to learn about things like budgeting and nutrition.
Josie Eatmon, executive director of the Triangle Apartment Association, said she is thrilled to help families like Mohammed and her children.
“She did so well in our program, which helped her become a homeowner,” Eatmon said.
After successfully completing the rental program, Mohammed needed another place to stay. That’s where Habitat for Humanity came in.
The Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network connected Mohammed with Habitat, which builds homes for families in need.
Nancy Bromhal, director of communication for the group, said Habitat built 42 homes in Wake County last year. This year’s goal is to build 50.
“It’s a huge team effort,” Bromhal said. “We have wonderful support from the community.”
Labib held back tears Wednesday as she described what her friend Mohammed has been through. She said Mohammed has been so patient, even when times were tough.
“We’re friends, but we’re more like sisters,” Labib said.
Mohammed is still in the process of moving into her three-bedroom house. It’s a new start for her and her kids.
“This means a lot to me,” she said. “I like to help people. I knew someone was going to help me.”
Hendricks: 919-836-5755; Twitter: @ashleytalks_