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Kosovo family rebuilds in El Mirage, Arizona

Albenita Shemsedini shared a bedroom with her sister Albulena and brother Alban. She could not wait to have her own room.
The Shemsedini family escaped a war-torn Kosovo on June 16, 1999, during the height of the war, with just the clothes on their backs. The family left Kosovo because they feared for their lives. They, like thousands of other refugees, fled to camps in Macedonia, just south of Kosovo.
In March 2004, the family celebrated the dedication of their Habitat for Humanity home in the United States. The family of five-Albenita, 15, Albulna, 16, Alban, 13, mother, Kimete, and father, Isa-have shared a small two-bedroom apartment in Phoenix since moving to the U.S.

The International Rescue Community relocated them to Phoenix. The apartment was rented for them and also houses several other families from Kosovo.
"I couldn't wait just to have my own room," said Albenita, who shared a bed with her sister. She said she plans to fill the room with her Barbie collection, tennis racket and perhaps a sofa.The family moved in to their 1,300 square foot, four bedroom, two bath home. The Shemsedini home, located at Habitat's subdivision in Pueblo Futuro in El Mirage, is the 150th home and was built by the Women's Building Team.
"My ladies do good work," said Jan Turnquist of Sun City West. "I'm happy they were able to have our home."
The family heard about Habitat for Humanity from Ada Polanos, a deacon at First Presbyterian Church of Peoria, after they were denied a mortgage. The church donated the furniture and rented the apartment for them.
Habitat sells the homes to families for the cost of construction with zero percent interest. The Shemsedini home cost $86,000 to build, but is worth $110,000, said a Habitat spokesperson. The family has a 20-year mortgage with the non -profit organization.
Habitat also has a warehouse of donated furniture, which families are allowed to shop from at no cost to furnish their new home.
A family is required to work 400 hours on other Habitat homes as well as their own. They also must pay $2,000 in closing costs and have the electricity installed.
Albanita and Alban have transfered to the Dysart Unified School District , but Albulena will graduate from Washington High School.
In Kosovo, the family owned a smaller home and Isa owned an electronics repair shop. He hopes to return to his chosen field, but English has proven difficult. He is currently the lead maintenance man for Shadow Brook Apartments at 51st Street and Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale. Kimete opens mail at Bank One.
The Daily News-Sun first profiled the family when they learned they had been approved for the Habitat home in October. Since that time Isa found an English tutor, Albulena got a job working with her mother at Bank One and flowers remain the primary decorating tool of Kimete, who plans to place several floral portraits throughout her new home.
"The house is good and I am thinking of new stuff to put in the house," said Kimete, translated through Albanita.
The Shemsedini family has two other Kosovo families as neighbors and one Albanian family.
How Habitat Works?
Habitat could not exist without caring people from our community. Our houses are constructed by volunteers and paid for by donations we receive. We also have volunteers who help run our office and serve on different committees.
17749 N. El Mirage Road #2
Surprise, AZ 85374
Office: (623) 583-2417 Fax: (623) 583-2705