In 1998, brothers Neil Griggs and Dr. Bill Griggs founded the registered charity Builders Without Borders (BWB) Foundation. Initially the aim was to create a forum where retirees with construction experience could contribute worldwide to those most in need, particularly in the rebuilding of shelter and community facilities post natural disasters. In later years, BWB has grown and not only expanded its expertise and services, but also includes various members of both the retired and working communities.
The founding four-member board consisted of an architect, a civil engineer, a project manager and a consultant with Audit Canada. All had experience with international projects and witnessed devastating impacts of earthquakes and hurricanes on vulnerable communities.
At that time, the question was whether Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) would benefit from the assistance of building industry specialists in planning and rebuilding of housing and community infrastructure post natural disasters. Both the NGO community and building industry professional associations across Canada welcomed this opportunity.
For the next 10 years, BWB recruited building industry specialists to work internationally with Canadian NGOs. The first project occurred in 1999 within weeks of being incorporated, whereby four Vancouver-based businesswomen travelled to Turkey post the devastating 1999 earthquake. The BWB volunteers spent six weeks in the settlement camps and taught women carpentry and small business skills to earn income to support their families. To this day these volunteers continue to speak of their rewarding experience.
Since its inception, Builders Without Borders has participated in over 50 projects in over twelve countries including Turkey, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Algeria, Ghana, Laos, India, the Philippines, Haiti and Canada. Today, BWB helps strengthen communities through an array of expertise and services to create safer housing and community facilities.