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My experience with Live Different Builds

December 12, 2014

In late November 2014, several volunteers and staff from Big Brothers Big Sisters joined with the Live Different group on a trip to the Dominican Republic to build a home for a family. This is Zuhal's story of her experience

by Zuhal Khoja - Conversation Club Caseworker - Peel, ON

I like many others on this trip did not think of the impact this trip would have on me and how I view life. I went on this trip thinking that it will be purely physical labour but undermined the emotional roller coaster that it puts one on. Growing up as a refugee in India I had seen slums and people living in extreme poverty and it always hurt me to see people in those situations but just like any other child soon I was distracted by my own life yet the images stayed in my head till this day. Yes I have seen poverty but I have never experienced it like I did on this trip as an adult and all what I remembered as a kid came rushing back to me and reminded me of those kids in India living in slums and the stigma they endured on day to day basis.

When introduced to Sandra (Nuevo Renacer Community Leader, Live Diffferent) and learning about her story I realized how important the role of a mentor is in the lives of children, youth and even adults. She truly revives the word mentor and is a living example of what a mentor should be like. Sandra has so selflessly sacrificed so much for the well-being of her community and the healthy ways of developing her community Nuevo Renacer. She is a true inspiration and a role model not only to her community members but also to many of us taking part in this build. When people ask me what my highlight during this trip was my answer remains the same “meeting Sandra” because not only has she devoted her life to serving her community but she also reassured me of why I do what I do at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel. Being in the field sometimes we forget the impact we have on others but it’s only during certain moments do we realize the true beauty of mentorship and why we are doing this.

I had the privilege of working on the Kids Club knowing that it would be a space that will be used not only by the kids we interacted with but also those in the future generations. It brought out many emotions in me – I was happy, excited, inspired, touched, humbled and most of all I knew I was a part of a big movement which at the moment may seem small but the impact this club will have on this community is larger beyond words.

This partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, Live Different and West Jet is one to be proud of as it brought out many of us across Canada together to work on the same goal. The teamwork was beyond amazing and our Littles are truly an inspiration and I am so proud to be a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters. As Sandra says “nothing is impossible” and this trip proved it to me and many more that “if we all stand up together we can move mountains and one day end poverty”. The Live Different staff are great motivators and made us see things from a perspective that when living in North America we sometimes forget to switch on. Their devotion of this project and the community is not just building new homes from families but creating employment, increasing sense of community and showing them the importance of volunteering. We witnessed these values and came to understand their commitment in creating a better world for all.

I am so grateful for being a part of this great journey and also more confident after this trip that yes one person can make a difference.

Impact of Mentoring