Dear Habitat Greater Ottawa supporter,
Over 13 years ago I left Rwanda to come to Canada. I would miss my family and my home country but I knew it was the right decision to make. In many ways growing up in Rwanda was very difficult. I can still remember when I was 17 years old witnessing genocidal attacks. I needed to leave because I wanted to raise my future family in a safe and welcoming place.
In 2007 I arrived in Toronto. Luckily I knew some people from my home country, but was still unfamiliar with the culture and customs. I certainly was not prepared for the Canadian weather! I can remember like it was yesterday stepping outside of the airport as the cold air hit me, chilling my entire body. I was so used to the hot temperatures of Rwanda that I did not pack or dress adequately for that first winter. But, like all new experiences, I learned to adjust quickly.
In 2009 I met my wife Aisha in Montreal and we moved to Ottawa hoping to find a steady job and a nice place to live. We were nervous, but happy starting a new life in this city. Now, I am a proud Canadian citizen and I have been working for the Canada Post for the last eight years. Aisha and I have three amazing sons Zaym age 8, Naym age 5 and Izaan who we welcomed to the world just a few months ago!
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Life was not always this good. For years we lived in a cramped apartment in an unsafe neighbourhood. Our two older boys are so energetic and love to play all kinds of sports like soccer, running and basketball, but there was barely any room at our place and it did not feel safe to let the boys play outside. Our neighbourhood had suspicious drug activity and violence. The police had to come around our area all the time. Aisha and I would stay up at night worrying about Zaym and Naym growing up in such an unsafe neighbourhood with bad influences. Our goal was to eventually own a home, but it was difficult saving up for a down payment when most of our paycheque went towards rent and other necessities.
In 2016 I was delivering mail to the Habitat for Humanity office when one of the staff told me about the affordable homeownership program. I thought it was too good to be true, but I decided to take the opportunity and apply the same year. In 2017 we received the news that we were accepted! I cannot describe how we felt when we received the news. We were all so excited and for the first time in a long time it felt like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders. I know we would not have been given such a significant opportunity if it weren’t for generous donors like you. I hope you will consider supporting Habitat Greater Ottawa this holiday season to help other Ottawa families like mine.
The summer of 2019, Aisha and I went right to work on the Leacross Landing build site. As part of our partnership with Habitat, our family completed 500 volunteer hours. Aisha and I worked on the build site next to our future neighbours, the Habitat build crew and dozens of community volunteers. It was such a rewarding experience helping to lay the foundation and to put up the walls to our future home. It was difficult work but I never doubted it would be worth it in the end.
Ever since we received our acceptance letter, Zaym and Naym asked everyday when we can move into our new house, and that day finally arrived on July 21st. Just five days later, we were blessed with another miracle when Izaan was born – so we moved in just in time!
Although we were excited, moving into our Habitat home during the pandemic was a bit scary and stressful. At our previous place, it did not feel very safe with so many people in the same building who would be in the elevators, or in the stairwells. Now, not only do we have enough space for all five of us, we feel safe and secure in this new neighbourhood among this wonderful community of Habitat homeowners.
This fall, Zaym started grade three and Naym started junior kindergarten. The boys love their new school and Aisha and I are so happy with our new home. Finally, we are able to start planning for their future and putting money away for their education, and once the pandemic is over, we plan to enroll Zaym in soccer – he loves it! Aisha and I no longer stay up at night worrying about the future, although now we stay up taking care of Izaan! I’m at peace knowing my children and my family are safe, happy and thriving and it is thanks to your support. Thank you for helping make our dreams come true. Now we have a place, a home, that we can proudly call our own.
With many thanks,
P.S. This holiday season you can double your impact and help grow the number of families served by Habitat Greater Ottawa in 2021. You can make a donation using the online donation form on this page and automatically receive a tax receipt. Please consider making an impact all year round by becoming a monthly donor. As a Hope Builder you’ll help strengthen our programming and provide ongoing support for families in need of safe, secure and affordable housing. Thank you for your support.