B.C. grandfather helps sick kids with handcrafted wooden bowls

Using discarded wood to create unique bowls, an 80-year-old Vancouver man turned what he calls a small gesture from his garage into a major fundraising campaign with worldwide interest.

“I feel so happy to do something for someone,” said Nirmal Singh Bhogal of his attempt to raise money for children with cancer in BC.

Bhogal’s labor of love begins almost every day at dawn, works well after dusk and takes his core value of selfless service, known in Punjabi as seva, to a new level.

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With the help of dozens, sometimes hundreds of pieces of wood, he accurately assembles and perfects all kinds of dishes.

The project started as a pastime in place of Bhogal’s usual volunteer services at the Canadian Cancer Society and Meals on Wheels, both largely canceled due to the pandemic.

His bowl carving project has taken on a life of its own since he decided to sell them through a donation.

“I usually pick up wood from the forest,” said Bhogal.

With the demand for his bowls rising, he accepts donated wood, including cherries and walnuts, and covers the costs for supplies and materials to ensure that all the money raised goes to the oncology department of BC Children’s Hospital, ”he said.

“People are giving us a good response, there is a lot of interest,” said Bhogal, adding that he was surprised by the demand from all over the world.

His grandson Mehar Bhogal and daughter-in-law run an Instagram page to display the bowls and accept orders after people make a donation.

The family raised nearly $ 20,000 in less than six months, quadrupling its original goal.

“The goal started at $ 5,000, then it went up to $ 10,000 and now we’re getting close to $ 20,000, so our next goal just has to be more,” said Mehar.

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Mehar, who calls Nirmal ‘Baba’ along with his relatives, said the initiative’s name, Baba’s Boo Boo Bowls, refers to the ‘boo boos’ they hope to help heal in children and the nature of the scrap wood they use. .

“All wood has boo boo’s – it’s not perfect wood,” he said.

While Bhogal looked to YouTube to perfect the art of making the bowls himself, he comes from a long line of carpenters.

He learned the trade from his own grandfather in India, where the family ran a carpentry business called Fine Furniture Experts in Punjab.

Before coming to Canada in 1973, he lived in England. He says he has always found ways to keep his passions for carving and community involvement alive.

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For years, his work has been featured in various gurdwaras of BC and in the main carriage of Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi Parade.

Now, from a small garage in Vancouver, he passes on his woodworking skills and wisdom to an entire community and vows never to be barred from using his gifts to give back.

“I feel happy to do something for someone,” he said.

Bhogal also has personal ties to the cause, having known and helped several people with cancer throughout his life.

“We are so inspired by Nirmal and his family; this initiative stemmed from his desire to help the children of BC in a real, tangible way, ”said a spokesperson for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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“The impact cannot be overemphasized. Supporters like Nirmal are so important … and we can’t thank them enough. “

The foundation says one in five children with cancer in BC will not survive, but donor support has dramatically increased children’s chances of survival over the years.

“The groundbreaking research initiatives, the next generation of pediatric cancer experts, and the long-term psychosocial and medical programs needed to defeat these opportunities depend on donor support,” the foundation said.

You can click here for a link to the foundation’s direct donation page.

All bowls can be ordered here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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