Aamir Sukhera and Bilal Parekh
“None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
“The best of you are those who feed the hungry and greet those whom you know and don’t know”
This one goes out to the Turf Shura!
This post is different from most I have written this month. This is especially special to me as I get a chance to highlight two unsung heroes that I’ve known for as long as I can remember. They have been working away on a project after project, supporting those in need and fighting for what’s right. Alhamdulillah, our previous posts have highlighted, pioneers, our respected elders. Today, I will attempt to share with you 2 men I am lucky enough to call my friends, my brothers. They are the tag team champions of the world (or at least of Tpark/Flemo). They are also known as the dynamic duo, Pinky, and the Brain, Harry and Marv (Home Alone), Batman and Robin (I could picture them wearing their underwear on top of their pants), but to us guys in the hood, they are simply B (Bilal Parekh) and Buck (Aamir Sukhera).
Now you are probably wondering, why is Onebrotherhood using a cheat code to post a 2 for 1. Let me tell you, Aamir and Bilal have been leaders within our community for years whether we noticed it or not. Their individual origin story isn’t complete without the others. Hence today we shed light on these 2 hidden gems.
Aamir and Bilal have both grown up in the TPark community. They faced the same struggles most of us faced growing up in the area. Their parents are known to many of us, and we know one thing for certain, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Further, the old adage behind every good man is an even better woman certainly holds true. After both Aamir and Bilal got married (not to each other obviously) I really noticed a change and more determination from them both to support people of our community.
Growing up in Thorncliffe in the 90’s/00’s was very different from today. We played sports, we rode bikes and most importantly we were united. I was blessed that I grew up in a time, that my older cousins would take me out to play with their friends. I was able to connect with many of the older guys in our area from a very young age. I learned to fight, play sports and be a typical kid. I never felt different growing up in the area, we made do with what we had and we enjoyed what we did.
My older cousin still reminds me how the older guys would make the youngers ‘wrestle’ to toughen us up. (It was not a fight club, don’t call the cops, it was just fun). They would also take us to play baseball, basketball, and every other sport imaginable. They would involve us in events, or even just let us young guys hang close by as they were all chilling. As people started getting older, moving out of the area, one constant remained Aamir and Bilal continued that inclusive environment for the youth.
Ever get into a fight and you needed someone to throw down with you? Aamir is your guy! He is as loyal as they come and will have your back no matter the situation. Maybe I will share the stories in private one day.
Ever get into trouble and you needed someone to talk you out of a jam? Bilal is your guy! He will sell a car to car salesmen, he just has that gift of the gab.
Ever face a problem that you don’t know how to tackle? I remember years ago, the younger guys wanted to run hockey during the winter. Aamir set us up in a gym in the area for our youth to go play. He took it a step further, he arranged cooking classes before hockey, so we could all have breakfast too. He also got us ice time at the local arena so we could play ice hockey.
All of that he did cause some lame kids wanted to play sports. He’s arranged numerous events like this for us that are too plentiful to list. Do you know the cherry on top? We didn’t pay a penny for it (in all honesty we couldn’t have paid even if we wanted to).
Ever have issues with your car? Or any random item at home not working? Bilal is a jack of all trades, his tool collection is probably equivalent only to his shoe collection. Need a clubhouse built in the valley – B is your guy, need to go check out a car you trying to buy – B is your guy, and more than likely the guy selling the car will end up paying you to take the car LOL. (might need a fact check on that one). Need your winter tires changed, need a new hesitator in your car – LOL – B is the man. Planning a BBQ and you need someone to look after 1000 kids and keep them occupied, B is that guy. Anything big or small, you call B. He is the Macgyver, the man just has a way of getting things done. He’s been the older brother that most of us never had. You go to any hood and talk to any random guy and he knows Bilal. Forget any hood, I have gone to ghaams in India, and Bilal is known there…
Now that I have shown you what each of them brings to the table, let me share with you what these two have done working together. Early in the pandemic when we had that first lockdown, stores were running out of items, Aamir and Bilal had the idea to kickstart a foodbank. This foodbank is different from all others, it is situated in Thorncliffe Park and assists some of the most vulnerable persons in all of Canada. Tpark and Flemo aren’t affluent communities, the poverty and access to services are lacking. Bilal and Aamir were able to assess the situation, strategize and initiate a much-needed project from scratch.
B and Aamir may not have the acronyms at the end of their names, or a certain designation to emphasize their education. What they have is vision, motivation, and good old-fashioned hard work. Aamir and Bilal put their money where their mouth is and started a little foodbank out of a small unit in the mall. After a few months a few location changes, an eventful TV interview and they now have moved to a 50k sq ft facility. I don’t have the specific number of families they support a month. I have, and still do deliveries for this foodbank and I can confidently say it is in the hundreds if not the thousands. SubhanAllah. The work they put in to make this a reality isn’t easy. Aamir built relationships with businesses, various vendors, and community organizations. He got the backing of the local neighbourhood office, he got politicians including John Tory to come down and he got fools like me to spend time on something valuable. Bilal handled the logistics, inventory, and deliveries. 1 delivery to a family is almost 50lbs worth of grocery items. Alhamdulillah. I do the easy part take the boxes and deliver to the house. Take a few pics for IG and pat myself on the back. What happens behind the scenes is truly remarkable. The time and effort B and Aamir put in is amazing. How the food arrives, how it is picked and packaged, how the families register, all that is the hard part. That is all on Bilal and Aamir. They have done this without complaint for over a year now, and I have seen the impact this has had on our community. What impresses me is the dedication they have to this project. Both are working full-time, have families and other commitments, but day or night whatever time they can put into this project they are doing and giving it their all. May Allah accept their efforts and allow them to complete the work with Ikhlas.
I can share other projects and initiatives Aamir and Bilal are a part of, but let me talk more about their character. Growing up both have made time to spend time with the youth. They were there to knock us if we were veering off track, ensured we got into school programs, had jobs, and ensured we kept busy with sports. Alhamdulillah, Aamir has a great ability to build lasting relationships and making connections with real movers and shakers. Many people from our community have benefitted immensely from Aamir’s contacts and have made successful careers for themselves. Whether it’s been in the skilled trades, IT, or many other sectors, Aamir has helped a generation really move to the next level and stay out of trouble. Bilal has been that rock for many of us, ever since I can remember. He was always the guy who would set up sports games. Football in the winters at Garneau, Baseball behind 71, or the infamous dohas vs. young guys cricket series. If you were ever bored and just needed someone to talk to, Bilal was there in his washroom chapals and cha in hand talking your ear off. I can count on my hand the times B has lost his cool. He always has this laid back, but hard-working attitude and he’s just easy to get along with.
Bilal and Aamir have made giving back “cool”, they made it fun and as always they have got the boys involved. The hours spent re-arranging the stock room at TNO, or going out for 300 deliveries on a hot Jumah day in Ramadhan, just made the time fun. It never feels like work.
Do you know how they say opposites attract? Aamir and Bilal are perfect at keeping each other level-headed and ensuring they get the job done. They have worked through some pressure-filled situations recently, but their commitment never wavers, and I make dua that Allah keeps their hearts clean and keeps these brothers united; Thorncliffe needs them, our youth need them as role models and I need them.
The last thing I want to leave you all with: both of these guys always made time for us since we were young. They involved us in groups and events when most others didn’t. They talked to us and dealt with us in a manner that we never felt like kids. They made us feel important and part of something bigger. If you have ever spent time with either of these guys, you could be with them for an hour, and you’d lose count of the people walking by they would greet or the number of calls they would get from random people asking for advice. They always have something going on, but the truth is, they both have this special ability to bring people together. And maybe that is their superpower. They both possess this special skill, I’m not sure how to best describe it, but if they say something people listen, if they do something, people follow, they have real influence and respect. You can talk to the elders of our area to the young ones volunteering at TNO (kids still think Bilal is Snoop Dogg), everyone only has good to talk about these two.
I know neither of them will be delighted that I have chosen to write about them. They want to defer the spotlight to others who have done this project or some campaign. But the motive I have to share their story is simple. Bilal and Aamir came from the hood and they’re still here. “You can leave the hood, but the hood never leaves you”. They are an example for guys like me, that no matter what is happening in life, there is an opportunity to be better and do better. They have helped me personally hundreds of times, and every day they are out here in the area working, they are setting an example for the youth that we can always do more. My ESL English might not describe this the right way, but the optics of young men working and giving back to the community is so impactful and leaves a lasting image on the youth of today.
And they give food, out of love for Him, to the poor and the orphan and the captive, [saying] “We feed you, for Allah’s pleasure only — We desire from you neither reward nor thanks. Surely we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day.”
So Allah will ward off from them the evil of that day, and cause them to meet with splendour and happiness; And reward them, for their steadfastness, with a Garden and with silk. (Qur’an 76:5-12)
May Allah SWT accept the efforts of our brothers Aamir and Bilal. May Allah ﷻ continue to take work from them both. May Allah ﷻ make their work a means of motivation for others within our communities and allow their platform to be a means of building unity within our communities. And lastly, may they not beat me up for writing this post – Ameen.