Eighteen young Sikhs and non-Sikhs spent their December holidays serving the community at the Anand Isher Sr Sec Public School in Ludhiana, Punjab. They were part of Young Sikh Association (Singapore)’s two inaugural expeditions to Punjab from 2 to 20 December 2003. The other expedition, comprising another 18 participants, took place in an aged home in Chandigarh.

Although the participants only had a total of 18 days, they certainly made the most of their time there. They refurbished the physics, chemistry, biology and general laboratories; reorganised and refurbished the school library; painted murals in the kindergarten classes; conducted English language lessons and drama classes for the students and workshops for the teachers. They also donated clothes brought from Singapore to the poor and needy children.

Fulfilling one of the initial objectives of the expedition, the participants also seized the opportunity to better understand the people and the Sikh culture through regular interaction and discussions. They visited the Golden Temple and Mehtiana Temple as well as witnessed the change of guard at the Indo-Pakistani border. They also had the opportunity to participate in the “Lohri” festival in a village.

One of the participants, Mr Jasmeet Singh, remarked: “Participating in this project is the best thing that I have done in my life”, while Ms Iva Melati Aminuddin, a non-Sikh participant, expressed her gratefulness for being offered the opportunity to participate in the expedition which has changed the way she views life. However, it was not only the participants who heaped praises on the expedition. Parents were equally appreciative of the opportunity provided for their children to participate in the project. Madam Sokhjit Kaur, said that her two sons were initially very reluctant to go to Punjab and went only on her husband’s and her insistence. However three days later, her sons called to thank them for their decision.

The expedition was 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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