He didn’t always work with us as a contractor, his daughter didn’t always have a safe home to live in, and his hat wasn’t always blue.
It all started in December of 1996 when Nicolas crossed the border from Haiti with his family to settle in the community of Nuevo Renacer. He had learned to construct and smooth-coat houses back in Haiti and eventually found himself regularly employed as one of our local contractors. Unfortunately, even his construction skills weren’t enough to significantly help his oldest daughter out of unsafe living conditions. Riselena’s house, among other issues, had a leaky roof, which left her place damp and mouldy during rainy periods. When we told Nicolas that we were going to build a house for his daughter and that he was going to lead the construction, he was overjoyed.
During the Build, Nicolas shared stories and many laughs alongside his daughter and the students of Seycove Secondary as they worked together—all while wearing his signature beige, straw hat. Stylishly protected from the harsh sunlight, Nicolas led the team as the house came together, brick by brick.
At this point during a Build, members from the community play a big part in getting ready for “dedication day” as they come together and help paint the house in the colour chosen by the family. For this special house, Riselena had chosen sky blue.
The paint was dry and the house was finished. As the community and students gathered together along the coast, the ocean breeze was blowing and clouds were scattered across the sky. It was a no hats required kind of day, but for Nicolas, this was definitely going to be part of the celebration. To everyone’s surprise, he had painted his hat sky blue to match the colour of his daughters new home and, standing along the shoreline with community members, volunteers, and his daughter, Nicolas sang out in joy and celebration of new beginnings.
Each and every house dedication is filled with emotion! We can’t help but wonder what it will look like when you are standing there, celebrating with a family that you’ve become close with as they receiving a fresh start and enter their home for the first time.