Sometimes good things come in large packages.
Four new families received the keys for their Habitat for Humanity-built homes on Nantes Street in Orléans on Dec. 17.
The homes have been built over the past year, and are all semi-detached and located next to the three homes built the previous year.
Johanne Leduc couldn’t stop her squeals of delight as she saw the finished product for the first time, only a couple days before her family’s formal move in.
She gasped when she opened a door in her and her husband’s bedroom to realize there was a small walk in closet, as her 16-year-old son examined the other two bedrooms to decide which was bigger.
“It’s clean, it’s beautiful, it’s nothing like I’ve ever had before,” Leduc said. “So the fact that it’s going to be mine, in a community I love and from an organization that I truly believe in, this place is amazing. Just amazing.”
Leduc’s home is slightly smaller than the house it’s attached too, which houses a family with six children.
The Ahmed-Haji-Dahir family have six children, and will live in a house next to the Leducs.
Mohamed Ahmed was an industrial engineer in Somalia before moving to Canada, while his wife is a stay-at-home mom.
“It’s going to be great,” said his son, 15-year-old Hafsa.
His 10-year-old brother, Abdu-Rahman, said he was very excited to be moving into a brand-new home.
They currently live in Russell Heights, an area which is predominately community housing.
Their new home in Orléans will be much quieter for the family, Mohamed said.
Next door to the Leducs and the Ahmed-Haji-Dahir family will be the Muse-Mohamud family and the El Bayadi family.
Both the Ahmed-Haji-Dahirs and Muse-Mohamud families attend the same Ottawa mosque and had friend Abdirizak Warsame speak on their behalf.
“Habitat for Humanity is for all faiths, and a proper integration into society. So they are great,” Warsame said. “It is really a great community. I promote diversity, and this is walking the walk.”
The Muse-Mohamud family also emigrated from Somalia, and were living in subsidized housing in the St. Laurent area before the purchase of their Habitat home.
The family’s father, Abdirizak, works as a custodian for the Ottawa Catholic School Board and his wife is a busy stay at home mother and a frequent volunteer at her children’s schools.
Habitat for Humanity said all six of their children have “glowing report cards” and are strong students.
They’ll live next door to the El Bayadi family, who moved to Canada from Morocco in 2008. They have two sons, one in elementary school and one in high school. They completed many of the 500 sweat equity hours families are required to contribute towards the purchase of their home working at the construction site.
Families who purchase the Habitat for Humanity homes pay an interest-free mortgage.
Several groups, including the Portobello South Community Development Association, presented the families with welcoming gifts and tokens.
“Considering how much love has been put into the building of these homes, how much dedication the families who are coming into our community have put themselves into having these homes built, I feel that today our community is so much richer, and I personally want to welcome you to our area,” said Steven Sauve, the community association president.
Habitat for Humanity National Capital Region CEO Alexis Ashworth also thanked the many volunteers and sponsors who played a major role in the home builds.
Volunteers were still hard at work to put finishing touches on the homes as the dedication and key ceremony went on inside the Leduc house.
One family had already moved in, and all were scheduled to move in by Dec. 20.
Leduc had already picked out the perfect spot to put her Christmas tree. Everything was packed at their old home ready to go in order to celebrate the family’s first Christmas in their new Nantes Street home.
“I’m going to put my tree right there,” she said, pointing to the podium brought into her living room for the official dedication ceremony. “I don’t need anything else for Christmas.”