Meet the Singh-Kuar family
“The economy in our country was so bad that if we worked whole days, we would get five or six bucks only,” explains Resham, as she and Sajan stand on what will soon be the front porch of their small, energy-efficient home, currently under construction in Bellingham. “We were not able to feed our children properly.”
The couple is of Indian descent. Their ancestors came to Fiji during the time of the British Empire, when many Indians were recruited to come to Fiji to work. Sajan, who is deaf, was a farmer in Fiji. The couple has three adult sons.
When Resham’s younger brother, David, immigrated to the U.S., he was able to sponsor Resham and Sajan’s immigration as well. The couple’s youngest son, P.J. came with them, but their other children remain in Fiji.
Since Sajan’s hearing difficulties have made it impossible for him to hold a job here, Resham supports the family working the closing shift at a local fast-food restaurant. Though the work is difficult, she is proud to do it, and she enjoys her job and her co-workers. In seven years, she has only missed a day or two of work when she was sent home sick. But Resham’s low wages are not enough to support even two people in a small apartment.
“I was just struggling to pay the rent, and all the other bills,” Resham says. Sometimes at the end of the month, the couple didn’t have enough to purchase basics they needed for themselves. Saving money for the future was not even an option.
Before they began construction on their Habitat home, Sajan put in several hundred hours of volunteer work in the Habitat Store. Despite the communication difficulties of being hearing impaired and having little English, he was able to work alongside store staff, cleaning and moving furniture. Now that the Singh-Kuar’s home is under construction, Sajan, their son P.J., and other members of their extended family regularly spend Saturday’s helping out on the job site.
Owning a home will change everything, Resham says. Growing up poor in Fiji, her parents had no wealth to pass on to her to help her build a future. Now, she and Sajan will have a home to pass on to their children. By having lower housing costs, they can find some financial breathing room to plan for their own retirement. And though her mortgage payments will return to Habitat to help build homes for other families, she hopes to be able to find a few dollars extra each month to donate to Habitat’s work.
“Because of them, I got this house,” she says. “I just can’t say too much, because my heart cries.”