An African family of seven is in the final stages of building a home in northeast Columbia with the help of Habitat for Humanity.

Originally from Burundi, the Barafumbashe family lived in Florida for a year before recently moving to Columbia. Their four-bedroom, two-bath home on James Dale Road has been an ongoing project for the Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity.

On Friday, five people answered a call to help add some of the finishing touches to the Barafumbashes’ project. They were applying baseboard to the walls and painting the doors.

The volunteers are always a “surprise,” said construction manager Bob Shannon. They range from students and church members to employees with local companies.

Friday was volunteer Caroline Kerns’ first day helping build a house. She learned how to use a transit level, an optical instrument used in surveying and building.

An MU sophomore majoring in business finance, Kerns was required to take a course in which she completed 15 hours of community service. A friend who had taken the course last fall recommended Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1976, has counted more than 13.2 million volunteers worldwide. The scope is vast: Habitat for Humanity assisted 50,000 families in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, 10,000 in Southeast Asia after the 2006 Indian Ocean tsunami, and 800,000 in the U.S. alone.

Applicants for a Habitat home-building project are required to have at least two years of good financial standing and must make an annual salary based upon the number of people in the household.

That translates to $20,000 and $50,000 a year, depending on how many people in the family, Shannon said.

Shannon said he wants to make it clear that the families aren’t simply “given” a home. Recipients must supply 300 hours of hands-on work in the project as a down payment and are granted a 20-year interest-free loan.

“It’s a sell, it is not a gift,” Shannon said. “We sell the home roughly at 50 cents on the dollar. It’s the best deal in town.”

During the work session on Friday, members of the Barafumbashe family used power tools, hammers and other materials to help finish their home. After roughly one year of construction, the house should be finished by June.

The remaining tasks include work on concrete sidewalks, the back deck and the front porch. Grass still needs to be laid in the yard, as well.

With a small laugh and smile on his face, Mukiwa Barafumbashe, a non-native English speaker, expressed his biggest takeaway from the experience in a few words.

“It takes a long time,” Barafumbashe said.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott:, 882-5741.

  • Spring 2018 public life reporter. I am a senior studying magazine publishing.

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