Peri Ndakize, 20, from Wodonga, Victoria, shares his story:
Dishing up our dinner of traditional Fufu and beans, my mum, Esperance, sighed.
“I wish we could afford to buy a house,” she said.
“We’d be settled and wouldn’t have to worry about being evicted.”
It had never happened to us but it had to our neighbours so it was a real worry.
Mum did everything she could to provide for my four brothers and I.
We’d moved to Australia in 2016, when I was 13, as refugees from the Congo.
My dad Kabengera had died there and life was tough for mum.
But she was determined to give us a fresh start when we arrived in Wodonga, Vic.
We rented a unit and my brothers Alan, 18, Andrew, 17, Mercy, 14, and Sunday, six, and I went to school.
Mum did odd jobs but her English wasn’t great.
Owning her own home seemed like a pipe dream.
So when I got to Year 11, in 2020, I hatched a secret plan to buy a house for her.
After school every day, I rushed to a local Italian restaurant to do a five-hour shift cleaning dishes.
Then I’d go home at 9pm and do my homework.
After six months, I’d saved up enough money to buy a ute and trailer.
I put a Facebook post up locally offering tip runs or removal jobs.
By the time I left school, I was so inundated with requests that I hired my mate Eric to help me.
I got a full-time job at a recycling centre and worked there from 7am until 3pm, and did my removal business in the afternoons, evenings and weekends.
It was long hours and physically draining, but after 18 months, I’d saved $50,000.
I put in an offer for the perfect house – new and clean with lots of rooms for all of us.
A mortgage advisor helped me with the paperwork.
In April 2023, I told Mum I needed her help.
“My friend Aung is thinking of buying a house and he wants advice,” I told her.
So Aung, his wife Pom, Mum and I drove to the house and looked around it.
“This is a great house,” Mum said approvingly. “I wish it was mine!”
“Guess what?” I told her. “It is yours.”
She was so stunned she didn’t believe me but when the reality sank in, she started crying and laughing.
“You made a lot of sacrifices to give us a good life. I wanted to give something back,” I told her.
She walked around stroking the walls in amazement.
Her name is on the title deeds alongside mine.
Now, I’d like to focus on building my career.
I want to study a trade.
Mum tells everyone she knows how proud she is that her own son bought her own home for her.
It was worth all the hard work because she deserves it.