Anh Pham and Binh Nguyen's Habitat home has made a lifetime of difference to their family. Nineteen years after moving in—escaping the leaky, mouse-ridden, roach-infested conditions of their first Canadian residence—they've paid off their mortgage and been able to support their three daughters' postsecondary educations. Anh and Binh wanted to start a new life in Canada after leaving communist-ruled Vietnam. The transition wasn't easy. The family struggled to get by in their first house, a rental unit so poorly insulated that in the harsh Winnipeg winters they had to keep the oven on for warmth.
The woman who babysat Anh and Binh's three girls was a Habitat for Humanity homeowner. She told the couple about her experience and encouraged them to apply.
"Habitat for Humanity gave us the chance to buy a home, something we wouldn't have been able to do on our own,” says Anh. With the opportunity came a sense of responsibility. "We knew how privileged we were,” she says. "We told our children to go out and do good things in the world.” Each of their girls has had the freedom to follow her own dreams. One is finishing dentistry school, another became a hair stylist, and the middle child surprised her parents with the announcement that she wanted to join the navy. Anh admits she resisted the idea at first. It would take her daughter far from home. But there was no stopping her. Anh recalls, "She said, ‘Mom, we live in Canada, I have an incredible opportunity and I want to do this'.” Her "baby girl” is now proudly serving the country that gave her family a new life.
Anh and Binh have both worked steadily over the years. Anh supports special needs schoolchildren and Binh is a tool sharpener. The affordability of their home allowed them to pay for their girls' educations and, in 2005, to close out their mortgage. "We would still be paying rent without the help of Habitat for Humanity,” says Anh. "It really has changed our lives.”