Homeownership May 05, 2022

Gemina and Jancis’ story

Gemina is a hard-working mother who has put everything into giving her fifteen-year-old daughter Jancis a better life.

This spring they will be moving into their new Habitat home in Winnipeg. But before that, and after immigrating to Canada, Gemina and Jancis spent many years in temporary housing, as it took many relocations for them to get the answers they needed from doctors. Jancis has a hearing impairment and the quest to get her medical support to improve her ability to hear and understand speech brought them from Winnipeg to Montreal and back again.

Upon their return to Manitoba, Gemina and Jancis stayed with a cousin for five years until Gemina found a job as a health care aide and moved out to be closer to work and Jancis’ school, the Manitoba School for the Deaf. But the tradeoff was an overpriced, tiny basement apartment in an unsafe neighbourhood.

“Jancis and I left everything to come to Canada. My reason was for Jancis. To give her a better life, to give her everything she needs. For her health, her education and her future. We didn’t have that,” says Gemina.

Through the encouragement of friends, Gemina applied to Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s affordable homeownership program.

“When we applied to Habitat Manitoba, Jancis would ask me every day ‘did you get any information back? Did they call?’ I told her we needed to wait, to be patient. When we found out we had been selected for the program, Jancis was so happy, she was jumping for joy. It was such feel-good news. We were in a bad situation with the pandemic, and I almost forgot for a little while that COVID existed.”

Gemina is buying her home with a mortgage geared towards her income and finished her mandatory 500 volunteer hours months ago, volunteering at the Habitat ReStore and on the build site with community support. She worked alongside Women Build to help build her new home, and Jancis’ school principal, Ricki Hall, organized a teachers’ build day on the site, donating their volunteer hours to the family.

“Jancis is a lovely little girl who arrived from Seychelles with very little language … and learned ASL (American Sign Language) from scratch,” says Hall. “This home will give them a sense of permanence and an opportunity to make it their own.” Watch Principal Hall's short interview about the family.

Gemina and Jancis’ new Habitat home will be customized with flashing lights and emergency features built into the home to give Jancis greater independence. “To have a custom-built home gives us safety, stability and peace of mind. I no longer have to worry about moving again. It is such an achievement in my life to have my own home.”

“Habitat is the foundation of all of our dreams. Without their roots, there's no leaves, there's no fruits to bear. I am so grateful for Habitat.”