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May 10, 2022

building on faith: celebrating the inaugural Interfaith Build

By Alexa Johnson

On a warm, sunny Saturday in April, community members, volunteers, and Habitat Charlotte Region staff gathered for the dedication of the Arale family’s home. This new home is more than a symbol of hope and new beginnings for Aisha and her family. It also serves as a symbol of unity as the product of Habitat Charlotte Region’s first ever Interfaith Build.

Aspiring to engage different faith communities for good, Habitat Charlotte Region’s CEO Laura Belcher, Claire Trexler of the Trexler Foundation, and Suzanne Henderson of Bridge Builders put their heads together. As they searched for a way to collaborate and bring people of different backgrounds, ages, cultures, and religions together, the idea for the first ever Interfaith Build was born.

Interfaith Build Volunteers with Signs
Interfaith Build Dedication Homeowner
Blessing by Imam John Ederer

The Interfaith Build project officially began in January 2022. In an amazing display of unity, volunteers from the Muslim Community Center, Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, Sikh Community, Church of Latter-Day Saints, The Park Church, and CN Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church came together to complete the home over the course of several build days.

The dedication itself was also a powerful demonstration of the faith community coming together. Imam John Ederer of the Muslim Community Center (pictured here on the right) provided the prayers and devotion, adding the dedication to the Arale family’s Ramadan celebrations. Congregants of The Park Church provided lunch to everyone present, including packaged Iftar meals for those fasting during this sacred month. Volunteers from the Sikh Community worked through the heat to get the finishing touches complete on the home. Together, folks from the Muslim, Christian, and Sikh faiths honored and celebrated the Arale family, illustrating what is possible in an interfaith community.

Homeowner with keys

The Arale family shared their joy and excitement to move into their new home at the dedication. The family is originally from Somalia and are of the Muslim faith. Aisha Arale (pictured here on the left with her daughter) is a single mother of six children, whose ages range from 17 to 31. She has three children who are out of school and employed, two children in school at CPCC, and her youngest child (the only boy) is finishing high school. They currently share a three-bedroom, one bath apartment with no heat. Aisha also worries about her family’s safety in her current home, where they have had their windows broken in the past. Not only will their new home offer more space and security for their family, but it will also allow Aisha to look towards the future and save money for her family.

See the Interfaith Build in the news! Check out the clips on Spectrum and WBTV.

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