Surrey student pays it forward to help local children

SFU student part of crowdfunding campaign to support Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver.

  • Mar. 14, 2016 9:00 a.m.

At just 24, Surrey resident Mujtaba Mir Ali, has already had several mentors in his life. Now he is paying it forward to help children who need a mentor too.

Ali and four of his SFU Surrey classmates are spearheading a crowdfunding campaign to support Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver. Big Brothers serves 1,200 children in the Lower Mainland each year by matching them with volunteer mentors. Children in the community-based program are generally boys aged 7 to 14 who do not have a positive male role model in their life.

In Surrey, children can wait as long as two years to be matched with a Big Brother mentor due to a lack of volunteers.

Ali and his group want to change that. They are hoping to raise at least $5,000 to help the charity recruit and train more volunteer mentors.

“We originally wanted to raise $7,000 but we went with a conservative $5,000 – but I think $7,000 is within reach,” said Ali.

For Ali, his own older brother has been his greatest mentor.

“I’ve had multiple mentors but the most impactful one is my older brother. He is two grades ahead of me so he was able to help me navigate life – high school, the transition to university, even choosing my profession. He helped me figure out that (studying) business was the right choice for me,” explains Ali, who plans on becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant.

The fundraising project is part of a third-year business leadership class in which students were given a choice between 15 to 20 charities.

But Big Brothers stood out for every member of Ali’s group.

“I think for all of us, we all have siblings so we understand the value of what it means to have a big brother or big sister to guide us in times when we are troubled or when everything isn’t so black and white,” explained Ali.

He describes his own childhood as a happy one, but credits his brother for much of that: “Adolescence is a time of trial and errors. Because of my brother, I had fewer errors, you could say,” he explains.

Today, Ali tries to be a good role model for his younger cousins.

To donate to SFU Beedie’s crowdfunding project to support Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, visit www.gofundme.com/helpthebigbrothers.

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