Recognition for young Singaporeans for helping schoolchildren in Punjab village

 

Fifteen young Singaporeans spent the better part of their December holidays last year helping schoolchildren in Mehma village in Ferozepur, Punjab, India. The volunteers, made up of multi-racial Singaporeans, were part of Project Khwaish XIV, the community service project of Young Sikh Association (Singapore).

During the expedition at the secondary and primary schools, the participants developed two libraries comprising 3,000 books. They also cleaned, refurbished and painted the whole school compound. Furthermore, they flattened the uneven assembly ground, helped build a walkway for rainy seasons and laid tiles on the ground so that the students and teachers did not have to worry about muddy shoes during wet weather. At the same time, the team helped lay underground pipes to prevent flooding and clogging of the sewage, thereby reducing the chances of water borne diseases. It also installed two new school gates, a signboard, fans and lights in the schools. The participants also distributed gifts to the students and clothes to the needy in the local community. In addition, they spent time interacting with the local community.

Singapore's Minister of State for Education, and Communication and Information, Ms Sim Ann, presented certificates of participation to the participants at the Singapore Management University on 24 February 2015.

"Beyond looking at physical needs of the school, you spent time bonding with the children and the local community and distributed clothes to the needy. You were ambassadors of goodwill for Singapore," she said.

The expedition showed the drive, determination and dedication of these young Singaporeans to venture out of their comfort zones and spend time in a village. They had basic living conditions, ate simple meals with the villagers, worked in cold weather conditions, and travelled in less than comfortable transportation. The young Singaporeans showed the qualities that are essential in doing well and succeeding in life, regardless of the challenges.

One of the participants, Gurnihal Singh, 19, echoed the view of his team that painting the school and laying pipes in the cold Punjab weather was physically challenging but the effort was worth it: "We saw the tremendous gratitude from the students. On the last day, one of the students from the primary school came up to me and told me that he really appreciated how we have cleaned up and made his school a more conducive environment for learning. Our efforts would now motivate him to study hard."

Another participant, 16-year old Kenny Tay, appreciated the work-life balance of the host community: "They have a strong community spirit largely due to the way they relate to one another at work. Whilst they do their work with their heart, they also find time during lunches and tea breaks to know one another better through conversations, sharing snacks, talking about their lives, their families, their joys and struggles. Maybe, we in Singapore can reflect on this and consider slowing down at times."

The project was supported by the Youth Expedition Project at the National Youth Council, the Lee Foundation, TriStar Electronics, Thakral Group, Modern Montessori International, Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), SINDA Youth Club, and individual donors and well-wishers. Air India was the official airline for the project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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