Ali Hassan Salman

In early 2006, life was good for the Salman family. Ali made enough money buying and selling old metal to support his wife and five children. We had a decent life, ” he says.

Then in July, that life exploded. When the shelling began, the family waited three days then fled their village in search of safety. Taking their neighbors with them, they piled as many people as they could into their pickup truck–6 adults and 26 kids–and began a treacherous 10-hour journey to a town called Dawhit El Hoss. For the next month, they lived in an uncompleted school building. “It was miserable,” says Ali. “The school didn’t have any toilets. The people there got us some mattresses, but that was all.”

Eager to get home, the Salman family took off the day of the ceasefire. With thousands of people on the roads, detours around bombed out bridges, and general chaos, the trip took 14 hours. Their feelings on arrival were mixed. They were glad to be back, but their town was destroyed. With devastation all around them, they were grateful just to be alive.Their home had been hit by two bombs, but not entirely destroyed, and they thanked God that at least the roof was still standing. Still, their house was uninhabitable, so they went to Ali’s parents’ house, where they stayed for 3 months. In that time, they cleared their living room of rubble (the one room that was not damaged by the bombs). The seven of them moved into that one room, returning to Ali’s parents’ to use the toilet or kitchen, as they had neither in their own home.

Then one day the municipality drove by announcing a new project through large speakers mounted on a truck: Habitat for Humanity could help them complete their home. They completed the necessary paperwork and signed up. With Habitat’s help, they constructed a bathroom and kitchen, complete with tiles and paint.

“Habitat’s help was exactly what we needed to go back and repair our home,” says Ali. “It gave us the push we needed to recover.”

Their living situation now is not perfect? they really could use more room–but it is much better than it was, and they thank God. “The children feel better in their home now. They feel secure they go to school and come back to a place that is really home.

“May God keep you and bless you for the good work you did for us.”