Building Blocks is a charity project set up to help rebuild orphanages in war-torn areas, and to help the affected children to overcome the horrific trauma they have faced. We had a chat with the BB team to find out more about what the organisation does:
How did Building Blocks come about?
Building Blocks came to fruition in June 2012, after two of our current members, Kirishan and Loven, went to Sri-Lanka last year to carry out dental clinics. Following their successful trip, they had the idea of building on it and after getting a group of nine likeminded friends together, Building Blocks was born.
We all come from different backgrounds and have very unique skills to offer as individuals. From day one, we decided that we would operate on a humanitarian and non-political basis, showing no bias towards religion, caste or creed. BB wanted to operate differently as a charity, and use the money raised either to directly fund the projects or assist with further fundraising – all administration costs, such as flights and accommodation are funded by us ourselves. This way, we can account for every penny raised and show how it is being used. This forms a fundamental part of our ethics which we will maintain.
You recently went to Chencholai, which is where Building Blocks are in the process of purchasing land. What did you do during your time out there?
Five members of our team, plus an additional member from Australia, joined us on our first official Building Blocks trip to Sri Lanka in October 2012. Our original intention was to rebuild on the iconic Chencholai site, but due to restrictions beyond our control, we were unable to purchase this site. However, we put our efforts into finding an alternative project. We sought out other potential sites by liaising with local NGOs and Government Service Clubs and used their expertise and advice to carry out risk assessments.
We have a few ideas that we’re in the process of discussing with the rest of the team before we can decide which projects to go ahead with.
You’re not just working on building an orphanage; you also work directly with the children. What sort of things do you do with them, and how do they react to it all?
The children are the main driving force behind Building Blocks, so we want to maintain that direct link with them. Two members of BB come from medical backgrounds and they held medical clinics to spend a few minutes with each child to see what can be done for them medically. Although they were unable to administer any drugs, they were able to provide basic medical care, and identify issues that needed to be addressed by local doctors. For example, girls of menstruating age generally seem to suffer from aches, pains and fatigue which can be easily remedied through vitamin supplements as their diet is not sufficient to meet their nutritional demands. We’re in the process of compiling reports with information such as suggested meal plans, and we will assist the orphanages in implementing the changes.
It was clear to us that there is an urgent need for counsellors and/or child psychologists to work with the children through the events that have led them to the orphanage in the first place. Another vital reason for counselling is to change their way of thinking and give them the motivation to live their life. Post-war, the emphasis is on living on a day-to-day basis – life is not viewed on a long term scale; there are no aims or plans, which is tough to see. To address this, we are working with local charities to recruit trained counsellors to live in the vicinity on a long-term basis to provide the necessary assistance.
What are Building Blocks working on right now?
We’re liaising with existing charities to source food supplements to provide to orphanages where they require nutritional support, in the hope that it will alleviate some of the common ailments.
One of the orphanages requires a dormitory, as at present, the children sleep, change, eat and study in one big area with their beds pushed to the side. We’re in the process of getting this project kicked off soon.
Most importantly, we’re drafting an advertisement for a trained counsellor to live in the Killinochi region and provide relevant assistance. This will be a paid role, so we’re looking to establish methods to sustain this particular project through donations, or through a fundraiser specific to this cause.
What’s next for Building Blocks?
There are two aspects to what’s next for Building Blocks – the projects, and the fund raising.
On the projects front, BB are kick-starting the building. In addition to this, we are setting up a hydration project with posters and water bottles to encourage people to drink water. We’re planning a second trip next year to see how these projects are doing, as well as to determine new projects too.
The second aspect to Building Blocks is the fundraising. After a successful Football Tournament, Strike 2012, and our Building Blocks Launch Party, we’ve got a number of fundraising events in the pipeline. We’re organising an extravagant evening of entertainment in the form of the Grand BB Ball in 2013. We’re also planning a Family Night with Tamil/Bollywood entertainment, dinner and dance, which will be a great opportunity for families to join in and experience Building Blocks hospitality and entertainment. We are in the early stages of planning a sponsored cycling challenge in Croatia in 2013, as well.
In addition, we have created a range of exciting Building Blocks Christmas Cards, which we are currently selling. We have already sold a significant number, and more are available should anyone be interested. Whilst this serves the purpose of additional fundraising, it also aids in building the Building Blocks brand.
It is through donations and events such as these that we are able to raise the funds to sustain current projects and embark on new ones, so as a group it is vital to keep thinking of ways to raise money for such causes.
If people are interested in getting involved, what can they do to help?
Anyone interested in finding out more then please visit our Facebook page which has information on upcoming events and blogs on what we’re up to.
Potential volunteers are asked to express their interest with a brief summary of their skills so we at Building Blocks can then utilise them effectively. We want to inspire our generations, but we also don’t want to waste their time. It’ll be beneficial to place volunteers on projects where they can make a difference. We can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org – feel free to email us whether it’s asking about what we do, how to get involved or how to donate!
We at Thamarai wish the Building Blocks team the best with their efforts. Be sure to check our Events page for listings of a range of upcoming events!