Despite losses, family moves forward on home ownership, citizenship

Mohammad Hanif and his youngest son, Danish Hanif, never got the chance to see their family’s new home in Las Vegas.

The family immigrated to the United States from Pakistan in 2008 after Danish became ill, but the father stayed behind. He and his youngest son were close, and the move was too much for the 13-year-old with a failing liver. He died Dec. 25, 2008, and Mohammad Hanif died less than 25 days later from what the family described as “heartbreak.”

The oldest son in the family, Kashan Kashan, now 24, and his mother, Rukhsana Hanif, have carried on, and after a four-year struggle, they moved into their new Spring Valley home May 31. The living room is adorned with photos of Kashan’s father and younger brother, as well as a decorative sign that reads “God is Good” in their native language.

It was not easy, though. Kashan, a Walmart employee since 2008, did not qualify for a loan initially because he had not established enough credit, but the family remained determined.

“Last year, when we moved into our apartment, he didn’t change the address on his ID,” Kashan’s mother said. “He said, ‘No, I don’t want to change it. Next year I will be in my home. Then I will change it.’ ”

He never gave up. The family’s mortgage originator, Ben Petkewich, coached Kashan on how to build his credit score. He applied for a second credit card, got a second job at an Arco gas station and saved his money.

“When people come along and say, ‘OK, I’ve taken care of my credit; I’m maintaining my job; I’m saving my money,’ you want to make sure that you’re going to close the process with them,” Petkewich said.

Ashraf Bawany, a real estate agent in Las Vegas for more than 30 years, is also from Pakistan and said he understood the difficulty of acclimating to a new country.

“They put their trust in my hands,” Bawany said. “I told them we’ll work on it, and I was glad I was able to help them.”

With the large number of home buyers willing to pay in cash, Bawany said, one could easily quit on the family’s difficult process, but he felt a responsibility toward Kashan and his mother.

“He worked so hard,” Bawany said. “Why wouldn’t I want to help him?”

Kashan and his mother said they miss their family members, but they are happy in their new lives.

“Maybe they are looking down on us now,” Kashan said, referring to his father and brother. “Maybe they are happy.”

Rukhsana Hanif, who works nights at a clothing store inside Caesars Palace, said the house is a good fit, and she loves to take walks around the park across the street.

“I said, ‘I need this house because there is a park,’ ” she said. “I want to see people and hear children playing.”

Bawany understands her concerns.

“It’s a different life in Pakistan than here,” he said. “There, you have a family that you can visit, and people come to visit you. There’s a lot of support. Here, you’re on your own and working all the time, so you just need some liveliness around you.”

The two are in the process of becoming U.S. citizens, but Kashan will always keep one part of his culture with him. He loves the sport of cricket and says he pays the satellite television provider a little extra each month so he can watch the games.

“He drives me crazy sometimes with the cricket,” his mother said. “He’s up in the middle of the night watching cricket.”

Cricket is not the only part of Pakistan Kashan intends to keep with him. After Kashan becomes a full-fledged citizen, he will make a brief return trip to his home country to bring back his fiancee.

“I wanted the house so I could have a place to start a family,” Kashan said.

According to his mother, the mothers of Kashan’s friends say they wish their sons were as responsible as Kashan is.

“We’re very happy, and our friends are very happy,” Rukhsana Hanif said. “I am proud of him. He works hard, bought himself a car, a house, and he takes care of his mother.”

Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Nolan Lister at or 383-0492.

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