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The future of the Boise International Market and its vendors: 'You have to start again'

Rita Thara Yenga's sewing machine burned in the fire on Setember 5, 2015. She now sells clothing and handbags online, through her company, Thara Fashions.

A year-and-a-half after the Boise International Market burned down, the building is almost ready for new tenants. But some of the vendors have already moved on.

"In my high school in Africa, they teach us how to sew, but I was the best in my class," said Rita Thara Yenga, a former vendor at the market.

Thara Yenga packed up her sewing machine, and her life, five years ago when she moved to Boise from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"I know for fashion, you don't need language, but I try," she said.

Without a word of English under her belt, she started selling her clothing and handbags at the Boise International Market. She tells KBOI 2News it was a great experience.

But on the night of September 5, 2015, she says her life was flipped upside down a second time.

"That day... it was not easy," she said.

A fire at the Boise International Market ripped her of everything, again.

"This was like the second time," she said. "And you say, 'OK it's life.' No matter what happens, we stay in life, so we can continue."

Today Rita cherishes a bible that was in the building the day of the fire. She opened the bible for our cameras; not a single page was burned. She also holds close a piece of fabric that somehow survived the blaze. It's also now on the logo of her very own fashion line: Thara Fashions.

Today, she sells online and to local shops. She also attends business classes at CWI.

"I want to learn more," she said.

In her future, she hopes to own a successful store one day.

As for the future of the Boise International Market, the building is now re-built. There are new doors, and a new roof, except no new tenants yet. The owner tells KBOI 2News, he's looking for someone to buy the building, and hopes the space will be an economic generator of sorts for the neighborhood again. He says at this point though, he can no longer manage it, and the inside still needs some work.

In the meantime, rebuilding is what Habiba Abbdullahi did. She opened her Ethiopian-inspired grocery store just six months after the fire destroyed her livelihood.

Salam Bunyan also rebuilt. Bunyan told KBOI 2News he started looking for a space for a new restaurant just one day after the devastating blaze.

"It was like a dream," he said. "It was not easy."

For months, he says, he worked sun-up, to sun-down, renovating a space on Overland Road. Finally, he opened The Goodness Land, a Middle Eastern style restaurant, a year ago.

But he tells KBOI 2News, it's been a struggle.

However, when you find your passion, he says, a fire only means it's time to move that passion elsewhere.

"You have to start again," he said. "If you have a dream, you cannot stop."

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