They built a library and subsequently catalogued close to 2,500 donated books to make the library easier to use for needy schoolchildren in Punjab, India. The group of 20 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 and distributed clothes and toys to the local community. This exceptional group were the participants of Project Khwaish IX, YSA’s community service project to Punjab, India, which took place from 9 to 26 December 2009.

In recognition of their selfless contributions, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Law, presented certificates to the participants in a ceremony on 26 May 2010.

During his address, Associate Professor Ho commended the participants and stated that, “Such community service expeditions are excellent opportunities to fan the international voluntary spirit and service learning among young Singaporeans. This is especially so for Singaporeans who take the initiative to develop and spearhead the community service project in aid of the less fortunate and underprivileged.” He went on to say, “Through the project, the team members experienced the socio-economic conditions in Punjab and gained a deeper appreciation of how they can contribute to society as individuals and the difference they can make through coordinated action and good intent.”

Impressed with the multi-ethnic composition of the team, the Guest-of-Honour stated, “The exposure the team had, living, working and eating together in close proximity, helped them to know one another’s culture better. The experience also broke down personal barriers because of the need to achieve a common goal. In line with YSA’s efforts to be inclusive and to reach out to young Singaporeans from all walks of lives and backgrounds, such noble objectives are important in further strengthening Singapore’s social fabric.”

One of the participants, Ms Diyanah Baharudin, when sharing her reflections on the trip, stated that, “The Khwaish project attracted me because it involved the building of a library in a school for young children. Books are a young child’s window into the ideas that shape our world; they are tools of inspiration and success. Without our intervention, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the children to gain access to such a vast range of literature. I am delighted to be part of the team that made this happen.”

The Khwaish IX 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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