Big Sister Turned Builder

After volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, Parveen had the opportunity to keep giving back in a new and exciting way. This is Parveen’s giving story.

Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel (BBBS) as a mentor to a young girl in my community has been an exciting opportunity that transcended into a genuine friendship. I value supporting youth in my community, and that is why I advocate for BBBS because it allows youth to unlock their full potential through the guidance of volunteers seeking to create a positive impact.

I’m a “big sister” at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, and my involvement in the “one-to-one” mentorship program has opened exciting doors to further my giving. Because of my involvement, I was given the opportunity to build a house in a remote community in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic last November. As a volunteer with BBBS, I felt compelled to volunteer my time outside of Canada to demonstrate to “my little” that giving has no boundaries or borders.

“Giving has no boundaries or borders.”

BBBS volunteers teamed up with WestJet and Live Different, a Canadian charity, for an opportunity to build houses in a country that is often seen as a tourist destination. Despite the Dominican Republic being a tourist destination for many of us in North America, much of their economy is still recovering from past natural disasters, and my trip there was to help a family rebuild and thrive.


During my nine days spent in Puerto Plata, I learned the value of a community. It was truly humbling to observe Dominican children working alongside volunteers and contractors to help a family receive a brand new home. Even though there were language barriers, it was incredible to observe all of us—Canadians, Dominicans, and Haitians—all working side-by-side to provide a family with their very first home.


The photo featured above is of the home that the Haitian family of four previously resided in before they were handed the keys to the new home I helped build. Their old home is considerably smaller than a bedroom according to most North American standards and it was located on a farm where Ernest, the father of the household, was working. The cost of rent consisted of half his monthly earnings, which is a significant amount of money to spend on housing while residing in a shack. Despite their living conditions, Ernest and his wife, Denisia, remained hopeful for a better future for their two sons Joandi and Daniel. Their optimism for change demonstrates what it truly means to be resilient.

Moving Forward to Build Again

Today, Denisia and her family have a roof over their heads, two beds, and a stove. She no longer has to worry about snakes and rats in her house, or rain ruining their supply of rice due to their faulty roof. More importantly, this build reminded me that the opportunity to give back to another family in need is priceless.


Seeing the happiness from the families involved in the build, as well as the community, was the most fulfilling and humbling experience I have ever experienced. This fueled my passion to partake in another build because of the connections and memories I made from my first. Volunteering is an enriching experience no matter where you are in the world, or whatever the cause may be. Embarking on this adventure has touched every aspect of my life and has profoundly changed me as an individual and the way I value life.


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