The lucky winners of one of the most significant lotteries in South Australia are a married couple who both escaped war-torn nations in Africa on their own before meeting and tying the knot in Australia.
In the Hospital Research Foundation Group Home Lottery, Aristide Nininahazwe and Esther Mboneye each bought a single ticket out of a total of 200,000 that were available for purchase.
They were shocked when they learned that they had won $1 million cash and the keys to a fully-furnished luxury home at Henley Beach.
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Since the pair first connected at Esther’s sister’s wedding in 2014, this extra room is a pleasant addition to their lives as they prepare for the arrival of their second child later this year. It also represents another great chapter in the couple’s journey together.
Esther and her parents had fled their home country and sought asylum in Australia in 2005.
Esther’s parents had fled Burundi in the 1970s due to the civil war, and they settled in the Congo, which is where Esther was born some years later. Esther is originally from Burundi.
When civil war broke out in their homeland, they fled to Australia in search of safety.
Separately, Aristide escaped the civil violence in Burundi in 2011, and he met Esther for the first time during a wedding in 2014 when he was a groomsman.
Both of them work in the medical field, and they claimed that the primary motivation for their decision to purchase a ticket was the desire to contribute financially to an organisation that supports medical research.
“Our aim was not to win this … it was just to give back to the community,” Aristide said.
While Esther is a nurse by profession, Aristide is employed in the field of disability support work.
As soon as the couple entered their brand-new property in Adelaide, which had a beachfront location, four bedrooms, and cost $3 million, they were overcome with emotion and began to cry.
“I still can’t believe it … why us? … I feel like I do not deserve this.” an emotional Esther said on Sunrise on Friday morning. “I’m just trying to take everything in. It’s so beautiful.”
Just in time for the arrival of their child, a son, who is due in August, Aristide, Esther, and their daughter Tiffany, who is three years old, will be able to move into the house in two and a half weeks.
They plan to spend some of the money to travel back To Burundi for a family visit.