Sault refugee family selected for new Habitat for Humanity build

A Sault Ste. Marie family is overjoyed to be selected as the owners of Habitat for Humanity’s newest build.

The Barakat family has been in Canada since 2016, having fled civil war in Syria. Now, Manal and Ahmad Barakat and their children Zen, Zayd and Amir are ready to make their permanent home in the Sault.

Since arriving, the family of five has been living in a two-bedroom apartment. It’s been a tight squeeze, especially for Ahmad, who relies on a wheelchair to get around.

Manal said when Habitat for Humanity told them they were getting their own home, she couldn’t believe it.

"I (couldn’t) believe it,” she said. “It’s my dream -- they make my dreams, our dreams, (come true)."

Despite the struggles and hard work associated with adjusting to life in a new country and learning a new language, Manal and Ahmad said they’re enjoying their new lives.

"I have many friends, I have new friends here," said Ahmad. "I’m very happy to come here to Canada."

Allyson Schmidt of Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie said the Barakat family has applied for a home multiple times. However, none of the homes being built could accommodate their needs -- until now.

"When we were going through our applications and we saw the family and their need for an accessible home, it fit perfectly," said Schmidt.

Habitat executive director Katie Blunt said the Barakat’s new home should be finished this year.

"We will be starting construction, hopefully, within the next month or so, and the house will be complete before the end of 2022," she said.

"So, they’ll be move-in ready before winter."

A requirement for purchasing a Habitat for Humanity home is to complete 500 hours of volunteer work at the Habitat ReStore, which the family is looking forward to completing.

Meantime, Manal and Ahmad said they plan to have a housewarming party when they move in.