Twenty young Singaporeans, led by a veteran leader, participated in a journey of selfless and charitable service in aid of underprivileged and needy children in Punjab, India. The volunteers, made up of multi-racial Singaporeans spent three weeks in December 2017 as part of YSA’s Project Khwaish XVII community service at the Government Primary School in Rattoke village of Sangrur district.

YSA has successfully embarked on and completed 17 such projects in Punjab since 2003.

During the project from 8 to 31 December 2017, the expedition team painted the school, set up a library filled with about 2,500 books and assisted in the renovation of the school’s toilets. The team also presented gifts, toys, stationery and clothes to all the students; as well special prizes to the top three students in each level and prizes to the top male and female student. The team personally handed out clothes to the villagers and the needy. The team also took time off their busy schedule to interact with the students and teachers, and participated in games with the students. These activities certainly helped both groups to better understand each other’s cultures and way of life.

During the certificate presentation ceremony at the Singapore Khalsa Association on 16 March 2018, the Guest-of-Honour, Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs, Mr Amrin Amin, stated that, “The expedition team was made up of participants from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. By working together, I am sure that your efforts have impacted the local community in Rattoke village in a positive and meaningful way. At the same time, I am certain that it was an enriching experience for the team members, opening their eyes to the plight of others and teaching them the important life lesson of offering a helping hand to those in need and giving back to the community.”

In complimenting the Sikh community on its significant contributions to Singapore, Mr Amrin added, “The Sikh community is a vibrant component of our society and has a long tradition of serving the larger community, such as through providing food and shelter at the gurdwaras (which are Sikh places of worship). The Sikhs number between 10,000 and 12,000 in Singapore but the community’s contributions to Singapore have been significant.”

Also speaking at the ceremony, one of the participants, Ms Rajveen Kaur, shared, “If one was to ask me what I have gained from Project Khwaish XVII, I would say that it is the value of teamwork and the 20 other participants who have become family. I have also learnt that some of the best things in life – the love and blessings of an entire village, come at no additional cost.”

Mr Faraaz Amzar Mohamed Farook, another participant who also shared his experiences during the project, was impressed with the children at the school. He stated, “They displayed energy, youthful curiosity and a never-ending thirst for life. Somehow, absent modern technology, their minds and bodies appeared more active. They found joy in the smallest of things. I remember one boy who was elated simply because I stopped to speak with him and play a small game with him.”

The project was supported by the Youth Expedition Project (powered by Youth Corps Singapore), the Lee Foundation, TriStar Electronics, Thakral Group, Labour Tel Management Corporation Pte Ltd, and individual donors and well-wishers.

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