Habitat Celebrates Topeka Wall Raising

Habitat for Humanity

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-- Bora Munganga stood alongside his wife, Jeanne, and smiled broadly at the crowd assembled Friday morning under a tent at 1717 SW Sieben St.

"We are so, so excited," Bora said. "We are so, so happy."

Bora, Jeanne and their four children - two of whom are in college - are the beneficiaries of Topeka Habitat for Humanity's largest build ever. The organization held a "wall raising" Friday on what will become a more than two-thousand square foot home.

The Munganga family emigrated from the nation of Burundi in central Africa in 2009. Bora said they were called by God to spread His word and build a life in America. Over the past several months, the Mungangas have been working to put in the required "sweat equity" hours and make their down payment.

Both parents work for Easter Seals Capper Foundation.

Habitat families must repay an interest-free mortgage, though it's a fraction of the home's value thanks to business partners keeping construction costs down.

Major partners for the Munganga home include Thrivent Financial and WIBW-TV. Thrivent is donating $65,000, which is half of the homes cost, through its Thrivent Builds program. This will be the fourth Habitat home in Topeka on which Thrivent has partnered.

Tim Zitter, a Regional Partner with Thrivent Financial, says the company's philosophy is all about giving back. He says partnering with Habitat makes sense because it helps families become stable so they can be the best they can be and also give back to their communities.

WIBW Channels General Manager Jim Ogle says the station's partnership on the home is a way to mark its 60 years on the air.

"As WIBW celebrates 60 years of service, I see no better way that to partner and building a Habitat house" Ogle said.

The highlight of Friday's event featured representatives of Payless "handing off" a wall to the community partners and the Munganga family. Payless is sponsoring a Habitat home through Seaman High School, but, for this project, dedicated part of an employee conference to building walls. The group of 400 workers built 40 walls in 30 minutes and was rewarded with a personal thank you from the Munganga family.

"You see this great family and they're energetic and industrious in making a life for themselves in America and to help with that was a great thing," said Steve Gish, executive vice president for retail operations and franchising at Payless.

Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast also attended Friday's wall raising. He said he supports Habitat because of its involvement in so many areas of Topeka.

"I believe the most important thing a community can do is to make it possible for everyone to have a home of their own," Wolgast said.

Michelle De La Isla, Executive Director of Topeka Habitat for Humanity, agreed. She asked the crowd to look at each other and to look at the Mungunga family, seated in the front row.

"We bring people together," she said. "Look at this beautiful family. You are changing their lives."

Bora nodded and replied, "Yes, you are."

Construction should finish in September. Bora says their youngest sons, four-year-old Josiah and six-year-old Gad, ask every day when they will be able to paint their new house.

"May the Lord give you the blessings you never expect in your life," he told the crowd.

He then translated for Jeanne, who said in their native Swahili, "God is every good. Thank you to each one of you."

Watch for WIBW-TV's special report on this project and the Topeka Habitat for Humanity mission at 9 pm March 26 on WIBW-TV.

Habitat for Humanity