Vancouver senior making wooden bowls to help heal “boo boos” of kids

Apr 26 2021, 1:00 pm

The Friendly News is a collaboration between TELUS and Daily Hive. Together, we’re creating a space for important, feel-good community stories to be told, where Canadians can immerse themselves in uplifting news and articles featuring community leaders giving back during a time when we all need it most.

Written for Daily Hive by Roohi Sahajpal, a freelance writer and journalist based in Vancouver.

The COVID-19 pandemic was just another opportunity for Vancouver senior Nirmal Singh Bhogal to continue doing what he loves — helping people and giving back to his community.

Unable to continue his regular weekly volunteering because of the pandemic for Meals on Wheels, the FreeMason’s Cancer Car Program, and his local Gurudwara, the 80-year-old decided to dust off his work tools and get back to his roots as a carpenter to make wooden bowls to help heal “boo boos” of kids.

“I started making a few bowls and my son said, ‘why don’t we sell them and give the money to the children’s hospital?’”

From there, Baba’s BooBoo Bowls was born and since last summer, he’s made and sold over 150 wooden bowls out of his garage, donating all profits to support children fighting cancer at BC Children’s Hospital.

The name, Baba’s BooBoo Bowls, is a play on the fact that Baba (Grandpa) makes the bowls from discarded wood that has “boo boos” to help kids in the hospital heal from their “boo boos.”

“He couldn’t go out, didn’t want to sit still, and wanted to do something. He has health issues as well so when he gets to help other people he forgets about his own,” says his daughter-in-law Ranjit Bhogal who, along with her son Mehar Bhogal, run the Instagram page where people can order a bowl after they make a donation to BC Children’s Hospital.

Each bowl is unique, handcrafted, and made from salvaged wood he gets from fallen trees in the forest near his home or scrap hardwood from a small door manufacturer who donates from Surrey.

Carpentry is second nature for Bhogal who learned the trade as a child growing up in a family of carpenters and metalworkers in Kartarpur, Punjab, India. He moved from India to England in 1964 and then to Canada in 1973 with his wife and four children.

He considers volunteering to be one of his hobbies and an essential part of his life. He first started volunteering in 1977 while living in Richmond, helping to drive around visually impaired people once a month.

For the last 15 years, he’s been driving for the FreeMason’s and Meals on Wheels. He’s also an active volunteer at his local Gurudwara, where the act of Seva (selfless service) is an integral part of his Sikh faith.

“All people need to do some Seva to feel satisfied in their life,” he says.

“Sometimes, I’ve had to drive young cancer patients who are 20, 25 years old. It’s in those moments that you remember God.”

Since he began, he’s received orders from across Canada, the United States, and England. Some people have even donated money without taking a bowl. He hopes to raise $10,000 for BC Children’s Hospital and is also looking for support from businesses to donate small pieces of hardwood like maple, walnut, and cherry so he can continue making bowls.

To donate and order from Baba’s BooBoo Bowls, visit their fundraising page and Instagram.


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A post shared by Nirmal Singh (@booboobowls)


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A post shared by Nirmal Singh (@booboobowls)


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A post shared by Nirmal Singh (@booboobowls)

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