RICHARD HUTTON/Niagara This Week
For Fatima Nur and her five children, a small bungalow to be constructed on McRae Street in Niagara Falls is not simply bricks and mortar.
It’s not just a house, it will be her home.
“I’m so happy for my mother,” daughter Hana said after a ceremony to mark the onset of Habitat for Humanity Niagara’s latest build, the 38th such project in the region. “It is something she has dreamed of.”
“We’re happy to be part of the Niagara Falls community,” Fatima said, who came to Canada from Somalia 22 years ago. “We’re really excited.”
The Nur family, Fatima, daughters Hana and Sara and sons Mahad, Guilid and Mohamed have pitched in with the effort, providing “sweat equity” required By Habitat as a part of the process. The family has already racked up 379 hours of the 500 hours needed by doing such things as helping out at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in St. Catharines, Hana said.
“Stamp your feet, too,” Habitat Chief Executive Officer Alistair Davis joked as the family, Niagara politicians, Habitat board members, representatives from unions, the District School Board of Niagara and high school students gathered in bone-chilling temperatures of -7 C. The brief, but frigid, ceremony was held at what will be the Nur’s future home at 5076 McRae St.
“This is a chance for the community to come out and see what we’re doing,” Davis said.
He praised the Nurs, who currently live in a rental unit in St. Catharines, for all the hard work the family has put in, even before work began on the home.
“This is a hand up, not a handout,” he said.
Work on the open concept 1,100 square-foot home will be completed by a group of 15 students enrolled in the High Skills Major construction program from several District School Board of Niagara.
“Their classroom will be right down the street,” Ken Willms, who’ll be leading the students through the build, said as he pointed to a construction trailer a few doors down the street. “We already started yesterday with preparations.”
It’s the 11th Habitat for Humanity home build students from the board have been involved with, Willms said.
Davis, meanwhile, praised businesses who have “partnered” with Habitat for the project, which include Scotiabank, Home Depot Canada Foundation, the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara Region among others.
“These are tremendous partnerships we have,” Davis said. “Supporting the construction of Habitat homes is the chance for the corporate community to get involved in an effort of making a tangible difference, one that is changing the lives of communities.”
Construction of the home is expected to take until June, but before then a wood signing ceremony will be held, allowing those involved in the project to sign wooden framework to signifying their involvement with the project.