Bile Farah's story is like the quintessential American Dream. The Somali native left his war-torn homeland at age 6, after his parents were killed.
He escaped to Kenya with his grandmother, and spent the next 15 years in a refugee camp with almost a half-million other people.
Then, in 2007, an opportunity landed in his lap, and he was allowed to emigrate to the United States under refugee status.
He got a full-time job with World Relief coordinating programs that help other refugees such as himself, and this summer he'll both earn his bachelor's degree in business administration and be eligible for American citizenship.
The icing on Farah's red-white-and-blue cake came Tuesday in Richland when nonprofit First Story and builder Hayden Homes broke ground on the first home Farah, his wife and infant son will own in the U.S.
First Story was founded by Hayden to help families in need become homeowners. The nonprofit offers families such as Farah's zero-down, zero-interest mortgages on new-built houses. Hayden most often is the builder, said Shon Rae, First Story's executive director.
The nonprofit is based in Bend and works with families throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Farah's house is the sixth they've done in the Tri-Cities, and the first in Richland.
Farah's house will be finished in about three months, Rae said.
"We are so blessed to get this opportunity," Farah told the Herald. "It is something I can't describe in words."
He looks forward to starting a new life with his family in their home, just as other good things are coming his way with the completion of his degree and becoming eligible for citizenship.
"I have made a lot of progress," he said. "A lot of people have helped me. ... I had good people around me."