New Brunswick

From three to a room to a room of one's own: Moncton family to get new home

The ten-member El Terek family says a new Habitat for Humanity home built just for them means they'll have enough space for everyone to be able to stay together as well as an accessible bathroom for Mazen El Terek, who uses a wheelchair.

Sulieman El Terek says his family didn't move from Syria to split up, more rooms mean staying together

The El Terek family is looking forward to having a new home that is big enough to accommodate all 10 members. They are currently sharing four bedrooms with two to three people to a room. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

For Sulieman El Terek, the best part of finding out that his family will be new homeowners is that it means all ten of them will be able to stay together.

The El Terek family was chosen to be Habitat for Humanity Moncton's newest homeowners. 

"We are so happy because we are finally getting something (that) can fit all of us and we don't have to leave," said Sulieman of the cramped social housing bungalow the family currently lives in.

A bigger home will relieve the pressure on the older children to move out to make space for the rest of of the family.

Sulieman is the second oldest of eight siblings, ranging in age from early twenties to nine months old.

His family moved to Canada nearly five years ago after fleeing Syria for Lebanon. They came as refugees, and have made Moncton their new home.

The family has lived in this social housing bungalow since they moved to Moncton from Lebanon nearly 5 years ago. Once they move into their new home, they hope another large family will be able to move into the house they're leaving. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

But the ten member family is squeezed into four bedrooms, with two bathrooms and only one shower.

"Our plan when we moved from Syria (was) to be together, we didn't move for everyone (to) separate. That's not good for us. You know what I mean, we like to be around each other, helping each other."


Aside from the small size of the clean, sparsely decorated bungalow, the house isn't wheelchair accessible. The doorways and bathrooms don't accommodate Mazen El Terek, the oldest son, who has mobility issues. 

Mazen El Terek, right, has mobility issues but the family's current home isn't accessible. Their new home will have an accessible bathroom and wide doorways so Mazen can use his wheelchair inside his home. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

This is all set to change when the new home is built in a lot donated by the city of Dieppe.

Sulieman has seen the plans for the six bedroom bungalow with a finished basement.

"The bathroom will be a big bathroom, big doors, very accessible for my brother and us. It has six rooms and a big kitchen, big living room," he said.  

The new house

Chantal Landry, executive director at Habitat for Humanity Moncton, said the family was one a few who applied and was chosen because they had the greatest need.

"In their case, they're a family of 10. So therefore, the house wasn't accommodating the size of the family, but they also had a family member who had a disability and … the house wasn't accessible," she said. 

Chantal Landry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, stands at the site where a new single family home will be built in Dieppe. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

"So those are definitely high on the list of needs because those are basic needs for anybody."

Landry said the family showed they could handle a mortgage, had good credit, and happily agreed to do the required 500 hours of volunteer work. They will also act as ambassadors for the organization.

"That's the type of family also that we want to work with, because that's what it's all about," said Landry.

Moncton family to receive new, bigger, accessible home

7 months ago
The most important thing for the 10 members of the El Terek family is to stay together. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, they'll have the space to do so. 2:09

She said the cost of building the house will be higher than previous builds because of an increase in the price of lumber, and many building supplies simply aren't available right now.

"Whether it be, you know, windows and doors, plumbing, bathtubs and sinks, all those things are actually impacted by COVID and other factors," said Landry.

 "So we have to look at all those things and it may be impacted, but we're just going to keep on trucking."

Landry said different businesses and trades people have already shown interest in helping to get the house built, but Habitat for Humanity Moncton is still looking for financial donations and volunteers.

"Whether they have experience or not, we just need people to get involved," she said.

Landry hopes to have the El Terek family in their new house by the end of the year.

She said she can't wait to see them do things like all eat together at one table, something they haven't been able to do in years.

"The simple things that sometimes we take for granted are things … they've missed," she said.

Yahia El Terek hopes the move to Dieppe won't affect his plans to graduate from Harrison Trimble High School where he is currently a Grade 11 student, but he's happy to be getting his own room.

"I live with my brother in the same bedroom and they are really small," said Yahia.

Yahia is excited to start work on the house, while nine-year-old Shahed El Terek can't wait to get her hands on some paint.

The only girl in a family with eight kids, she already has the colour of the very first room of her own picked out: "Pink."


Tori Weldon


Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?