While 18 participants left for the community service project in Ludhiana under the Young Sikh Association (Singapore) umbrella, another 18 young Sikhs and non-Sikhs made a similar journey to Chandigarh from 2 to 20 December 2003 to work at the Home for the Aged and Destitute.

A key aspect of their community work was interacting with the residents at the home and giving them a receptive ear. The residents enjoyed the company of the youths so much that a resident, Mdm Raksha, commented, “With these children around, we do not miss our own children. Neither do we miss the life we used to enjoy. They make us look forward to the next day.”

The participants also undertook several infrastructure projects. These included constructing a pavement in the garden and a fitness park. They demolished the old pathway, extended and filled it with cement, thus allowing the residents to take early morning walks and even enjoy gardening. Many grueling hours of digging, pounding and cementing were spent in developing a diamond-shaped foot reflexology path for the residents of the home. The projects were officially launched on 17 December 2003.

The participants also showcased their rendition of the Singaporean culture to the residents. They performed the “dikit barat” to an Indian song, sang a Chinese song, and presented a medley of Singapore national songs. At the same time, they took the opportunity to understand the Indian and Sikh ways of life and culture. They visited the Golden Temple and witnessed the change of guard at the Indo-Pakistan border. They also travelled to Simla and had a taste of watching a movie in an Indian cinema hall. And they joined the Ludhiana group on the village visit.

The expedition left a lasting impression on all the participants. Sanjeev Singh said: “I would never replace this experience for anything else. Thanks for giving me the chance to make a difference in the lives of these wonderful people.” Likewise, Muhammed Ridzwan remarked, “The heartwarming smiles of the old folks lit up my face everyday. It dawned on me that this is what life is about – making a difference.”

The expedition to Chandigarh was also supported by the Singapore International Foundation through its Youth Expedition Project, the Lee Foundation, Tri Star Electronics Pte Ltd and several individual donors.

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