Petronella Nyamangwanda escaped Zimbabwe for a better life but she has ended up living in a dingy Lower Hutt house, struggling to make ends meet for the past decade.
"I wanted to give my daughter an opportunity for a life which is safe and stable. We ended up in a house that is very damaged. It is damp and smelly."
Ms Nyamangwanda has wanted to buy a healthy home since moving to New Zealand in 2001, but she could never muster enough for a deposit.
But the solo mother's life is about to change this month when her Habitat for Humanity house is finished and moved on to a Cannons Creek section in Porirua.
"It makes us feel loved," she said.
Her daughters Grace Murape, 11, and Cheryl Bonga, 3, are excited about having their own pink and purple bedrooms and a vegetable garden.
Once Ms Nyamangwanda's home is finished, complete with heat pump, her future neighbour's house will be built and moved to the same section.
The neighbour was also a solo mother of two and her house would be the 16th built by the charity in Porirua since 1998, regional resource development manager Gill Burns said.
Twenty-five houses have been built by Habitat for Humanity in the lower North Island since 1997.
More Wellington houses are in the pipeline thanks to an anonymous couple donating their Mt Cook home last year.
Volunteers have renovated 41 Hankey St, which is now on the market and expected to fetch $600,000, with $200,000 going on the mortgage and the rest used to buy and develop eight Karori sections in conjunction with Te Whanau O Awahauhake Trust.
Half of the sections would be sold to fund the construction of four houses for young families yet to be picked, Mrs Burns said. Those chosen often lived in overcrowded, overpriced, "grotty" rentals and couldn't afford a house deposit.
HOW IT WORKS
Habitat for Humanity buys sections in affordable areas.
Houses valued between $250,000 to $300,000 are built using volunteers to keep costs down.
Families have to give 500 hours of their own time to help build the house.
About 30 per cent of the family's household income is paid in rent.
Rent paid is gifted as equity and the family can eventually get a bank loan once enough equity is built up to buy the property.
Habitat is paid back and the next project starts.
- The Dominion Post