For those of you who have found the blog more recently I became involved with Salaam Baalak Trust about a year or so ago when I went along to a Street Walk organised by the British Contact Group. I was so moved by the children I met in the holding centre that I resolved to do something to try and engage them. To me, though well looked after and safe, they seemed "switched off" for want of a better word and being the mother of three boys I battled with them being in two rooms in the centre where they ate, slept and lived with occasional interventions by well meaning groups and volunteers but who all had a transient effect on their already transient lives. These boys have agreed to come off the railway line and be looked after by SBT because they are lost, abused, addicted or not wanted. So I came up with what I considered to be a bit of a hair brained idea and for almost a year I have been collecting LEGO - a building block game very well known in Europe which engages millions of children around the Globe. Well after nearly a year of collecting and hours spent sorting out the Lego and finding the boxes to store it all, the day finally arrived when we went off to give it all to them.
To be honest I was not at all sure how they would react - Lego is simply unknown here and these children have nothing, let alone toys like this.
My son and I took two large boxes of Lego, one of Duplo, for the younger children, one full of little cars and playmobile figures, colouring pencils and colouring books, exercise books and reading books as well as clothes, toothbrushes and flip flops.
We were warmly welcome and within minutes of opening the boxes and showing the boys some of the models that my son had made for them they were busy making their own creations and we were stunned by how quickly they knew what they needed to do and the lovely creations they made. They were thoroughly absorbed in making the most imaginative creations but also collaborating with one another which was lovely to watch and they were amazingly proud of their models and wanted to be photographed with them.
Here are some of the pictures of the afternoon.
All the Lego boxes are now permanently at the holding centre and we promised to go back and play with them again and other groups can use them too. I am, in the meantime, preparing boxes for some of the other homes as I collected more than enough Lego to go around several homes.
My thanks go to Jo who took me on that first walk and then through the British Contact Group was the first to contribute funds, to all my Seven Cities group who took up the cause, to friends as far as Cyprus, Geneva, France and Moscow who organised collections and who got pieces or funds to me. I am indebted to you all but more importantly perhaps you have all made a small but noticeable difference to these boys' lives.