OGHS, American Baptist volunteers provide home for single mother, son

Top: Lozitha Nzula and her son enter their new home. Bottom: At the home’s dedication, the proud homeowner is congratulated by Victoria Goff, ABHMS national coordinator of Volunteer Mobilization Ministries.

Top: Lozitha Nzula and her son enter their new home.
Bottom: At the home’s dedication, the proud homeowner is congratulated by Victoria Goff, ABHMS national coordinator of Volunteer Mobilization Ministries.

This winter, an immigrant family from Africa is enjoying the comfort, safety and warmth of their own New England home, thanks, in part, to a One Great Hour of Sharing Development Grant that American Baptist Home Mission Societies awarded on behalf of American Baptist Churches USA to Greater Lowell (Mass.) American Baptist Churches.

Specifically, a $30,000 grant to Greater Lowell American Baptist Churches’ Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative helped to facilitate construction of a three-bedroom, two-story house in Lowell for Lozitha Nzula, 42, and her son, Simphiwe Gonzo, 6, formerly of Zimbabwe.

Mother and son moved into the house this past summer, after construction was completed by volunteer crews from Greater Lowell American Baptist Churches, The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell.

Nzula says she came to the United States in 2009 to marry her high school sweetheart. When her now ex-husband became abusive, she says, she and her son escaped to a domestic violence shelter.

Frightened by the noise in the shelter, Gonzo, who has ADHD, would often crawl into Nzula’s bed. His life had been unstable, she says, and he had been the victim of teasing. Now he not only enjoys the stability of a home but his own bedroom, too.

In September 2014, Nzula applied to the Habitat for Humanity program after attending an information session at the local library. To qualify for the program, she trudged through a snowy Lowell winter to attend required financial-literacy classes.

“When I started, I didn’t have a car. So I had to get on buses just to make it from my job, pick up my son and drop him off at the babysitter,” she says. “It was rough, but we made it.”

To meet required sweat-equity hours to qualify for the home, Nzula spent every Saturday alongside volunteers constructing not only her own house but also two other Habitat for Humanity houses. She had been working both a full-time weekday job and a part-time weekend job; however, when demands became unbearable, she relinquished the latter. She then began a 50-minute one-way weekday commute to Boston upon landing a new full-time job writing and managing grants for the nonprofit Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy.

Nzula thanks American Baptists for their prayers, support, sweat equity, donations, love, trust and faith.

“Their prayers have kept me going. Things happen, and it has not been easy for me,” she says. “It’s been hard, but it’s been worth it.”