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Jakarta Post

Ben'€™s Boxes: The inspirational work of a young boy

  • Amanda O’Connor

    The Jakarta Post

Denpasar   /   Thu, July 2, 2015   /  11:45 am
Ben'€™s Boxes: The inspirational work of a young boy

Courtesy of James Breeze

Ben Breeze is just 7 years old. Currently living in Bali, he is used to seeing kids begging on the streets. However, unlike the great majority of people, he has been moved to do something constructive to help the children.

James Breeze, Ben'€™s father, recalled that Ben had been watching a video on YouTube when he suddenly decided he wanted to start a charity, '€œto help kids in Bali, like those ones who beg on Sunset Road'€.

Breeze was intrigued and helped Ben start a crowd sourcing campaign on gofundme.com.

Seeing a positive response to his appeal to help kids and in seeking information, Ben, a student at Canggu Community School, approached the year 12 students at his school to tell them about his work and to ask them for ideas to put the money to good use.

Taking on board their advice, he decided to help out at the Bali Life street kid drop-in center.

The center is a refuge for families that work on the garbage tip in Monang Maning, Denpasar. Their poverty and lack of skills and education mean that whole families scavenge on the tip, looking for recyclable goods, while many of the children are also sent out begging and spend most of their day on the streets.

Ben visited the tip to see what life was like for the children and called in to the drop-in center, where skills training is provided for women, encouraging them to generate their own income and not to send their children out begging.

With the mothers using the center, the kids are encouraged to hang out there too, in a safe place where they can study in informal classes if they choose to.

Bali Life is very proud that one of the children has just passed the equivalent examination for elementary school level, meaning he can now enroll in formal education at a national junior high school.

Ben makes regular visits to the Bali Life school, picking up the street kids who spend much of their time sifting through trash for plastic to recycle. After playing with the kids and finding out what they needed, Ben decided to build a playground, so they could have some fun in their lives.

Courtesy of James BreezeCourtesy of James Breeze

While raising money for the playground equipment, Ben found out the center desperately needed a fridge to keep food fresh so the children and their mums could eat some healthy food. He arranged to buy one and have it delivered. He also donated 100 books so the kids could study and learn to love reading.

The playground was built of wood in the carpentry village of Nyanyi in Tabanan and was designed by two children in Ben'€™s year two class at school.

One of Ben'€™s ambitions is to show children that they have the power to make a difference and can help others. His class held a competition to design the playground for the center, while year five students spent an hour with Ben asking him lots of questions about his project.

Ben set a goal of raising US$2,000 for the Bali Life drop-in center, and when he exceeded this amount, he donated the extra Rp 5 million ($374) to Suman'€™s Charity for Nepal via the Bye Bye Plastic Bags team, another Bali-based foundation initiated and driven by kids, which provided rice and vital supplies directly to a village in Nepal that had received no official aid after the country'€™s recent devastating earthquake.

Ben did not stop. During his presentation to the year five Canggu Community School students, he was asked, '€œSo what have you learned from doing Ben'€™s Boxes charity?'€ He replied, '€œI'€™ve learned that there are a lot of people who need help and they need to learn.'€

'€” Find out more about Ben'€™s Boxes and Suman'€™s Charity for Nepal on their Facebook pages and Bali Life at balilife.org.

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