One Winnipeg family is busy settling into a home that it took a community to build.
Samuel Ndagijimana, Alice Ndabecekure, their four children and niece recently moved into a five-bedroom house on Essex Avenue that was built last summer, in large part, by numerous volunteers and spearheaded by Habitat Chez-soi — a local committee of Habitat for Humanity Manitoba.
"I’m very, very happy because now we have enough space," said Ndagijimana, a substitute teacher with Louis Riel School Division and casual residential support worker, who also has an education degree from the University of Winnipeg. Ndabecekure is a health care aid and the couple both hail from Burundi.
Last year, the couple’s niece immigrated to Canada to live with them and they have applied to be her legal guardians. The family had previously been living in a three-bedroom townhouse, where three of the kids shared one room.
"Before, they had to squeeze in the same bedroom and there wasn’t enough room for them to play with their toys. It’s really a dream. I can say it’s a dream," Ndagijimana said, noting the area is quiet and that he has enjoyed meeting some of his neighbours.
The townhouse also had a negative impact on the health of two of his kids, who suffer from asthma. The carpeting was a trigger and one of his daughters was hospitalized three times, Ndagijimana said, despite requests to their landlord to replace it.
St. Boniface resident Matt Allard, HSC’s vice-president, said Chez-soi is a "pilot project and poster child" because while being part of Habitat, it has its own committee and the "autonomy to blitz-build and raise sponsorship" for its various builds.
He said the volunteers constructed the floors, walls and roof, and then the house was finished off by Habitat construction staff and tradespeople. The family also had to do its 500 hours of sweat equity, while sponsors pay for the construction costs and Habitat manages the interest-free mortgage.
A spokesperson for Habitat for Humanity Manitoba said the house is a 910 sq.-ft. raised bungalow with five bedrooms — two up, three down — and two bathrooms. It is built to Power Smart Gold standards and incorporates LEED features to increase its affordability due to its energy efficiency.
Allard said the build was a rewarding experience because it showed the community coming together for a common goal.
"Everyone wins — Samuel, Alice and their four children now have a suitable home and the community gains a new hardworking young family, which will fill our schools, fuel our businesses and renew our organizations. We are also stronger as a community from having come together around a cause that unites us," he said.
To learn more about Habitat Chez-soi, visit mathieuallard.ca