YSA Project Khwaish VIII team off to Punjab for community service

 

Twenty young Singaporeans, led by two qualified leaders and a trained facilitator, embarked on a journey of selfless and charitable service in aid of underprivileged and needy children in Punjab, India, from 3 to 21 December 2008. They are part of YSA’s community service project team to Korewala, Moga, (Project Khwaish VIII). The word “Khwaish” means hopes or aspirations in Punjabi.

 

The project represents truly Singaporean ethnic flavour. It comprises participants from all the racial and religious groups in Singapore, namely, 12 Sikhs, seven Chinese, two Indians and two Malay/Muslims. This is in line with YSA’s efforts to be inclusive and to reach out to young Singaporeans from all walks of lives and backgrounds.

 

YSA organised a send-off ceremony for the participants on 2 December 2008. Ms Indranee Rajah, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, and Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC, was the Guest-of-Honour for the ceremony. During her address, Ms Rajah stated that, “The Mumbai attacks last week are a tragic reminder of the need for greater understanding, awareness and appreciation of our fellow human beings …All of us condemn the terrorist acts. Nothing can justify the taking of innocent lives, no matter what the reasons may be. The attacks remind of the reality of hatred, discrimination and destruction that exists all around us, and we cannot escape from it. However, I would like to add that this project by YSA also reminds us of another reality, that is, each and every one of us has a role to play to promote better understanding in our multi-racial, multi-religious society while we promote goodwill with the real and, at times, troubled world around us.” 

 

In his opening remarks, Mr Hernaikh Singh, YSA’s President, stated that the Khwaish projects are a signature event of the Association. “Even before we were officially launched in January 2004, we had already undertaken two community service expeditions to Punjab. These two projects gave YSA the launch that we were looking for. Almost immediately, YSA became a brand name, due primarily due to the good work of the two project teams. Subsequent projects and participants continued with the good work. The projects have been so successful that we now have participants signing up even before we start the publicity for our expeditions. He also assured the parents and participants that YSA has taken all the necessary precautions for the project, adding “…YSA places the highest consideration on the safety and well-being of the participants. This is the topmost priority for YSA in all the projects we have undertaken thus far.

The team will spend its time developing a library of 2,000 books in the school. At the same time, the team will clean up, refurbish and paint the whole school. The participants will also conduct teacher training workshops at the school. They will also distribute toys and clothes to the children and needy in the local community. In addition, they will spend time interacting with the local community as well as visiting places of cultural and historical importance such as the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

 

This is Young Sikh Association (Singapore)’s eighth community service project to Punjab. It is supported by the Youth Expedition Project at the National Youth Council, Lee Foundation, TriStar Electronics, the Thakral family, and individual donors and well-wishers.


Young Singaporeans recognised for helping needy schoolchildren in Punjab

They built a library and subsequently catalogued close to 2,000 donated books in order to make it easier for use by needy children in Punjab, India. The group of 23 Singaporeans also cleaned, refurbished and painted the school building. They also conducted workshops for teachers on teaching techniques and library management in the school. At the same time, they held many interaction sessions with the students as well as distributed clothes and toys to the local community.

 

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Education, Mr S. Iswaran, presented certificates to the 23 Singaporeans in a ceremony at the National Library (Singapore) on 5 May 2009.

 

During his address, Mr Iswaran commended YSA for its efforts to enhance understanding between different ethnic groups through a variety of platforms, including community service. He also praised the participants “…for spending their time in service of others, living many kilometres away from home, while being ambassadors of goodwill for Singapore. Truly, they encapsulated the best qualities of Singapore youths.” He added that, “the team has learned about the socio-economic conditions in Punjab, while gaining a deeper appreciation of many things that might be taken for granted back in Singapore. The team members came back with an understanding of how they can contribute as individuals and the difference coordinated action and good intent can make.”

 

The project represented truly Singaporean ethnic flavour. It comprised participants from all the racial and religious groups in Singapore, namely 12 Sikhs, seven Chinese, two Indians and two Malay/Muslims. In acknowledging this, Mr Iswaran stated, “The kind of exposure that this team had, living, working and eating side by side, helps Singaporeans to get to know one another’s culture better and to break down barriers. It is this kind of deeper understanding that will allow our society to withstand any stresses caused by racial and religious differences.”

 

Following the presentation of certificates, the 90-odd guests heard the personal perspectives of two of the participants, Mr Narmeet Singh and Mr Mohammad Nazri Bin Sazali. This was followed by a video presentation on the project and a dinner reception.

The project was supported by the Youth Expedition Project at the National Youth Council, the Lee Foundation, TriStar Electronics, and individual donors and well-wishers.

 

 

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