They provided a completely new school to the teachers and students of a village school in India in less than three weeks.

The 16 young Singaporean volunteers started with an old rundown room and converted it to a full-fledged library, donating 2,500 books, eight book shelves and a laptop to manage the loan system. They then went on to clean, plaster and paint the school. They also built a seven-foot boundary wall around the school with two new gates; and fitted the classrooms with ceiling fans and lights. At the same time, they built an indoor kitchen, donated a cooker for the preparation of the children’s meals and provided a water purification system to the school, which till that point had contaminated water. The volunteers also donated more than 160 chairs and tables to the school.

The participants were part of Project Khwaish X, Young Sikh Association (Singapore)’s community service project to Punjab, India, from 7 to 27 December 2010. They were recognised for their efforts at a certificate presentation ceremony organised by the Association at the Grassroots Club on 25 January 2011.

Mr Sam Tan, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry; and Information, Communications and the Arts, who presented the certificates, stated, “I would like to commend the team members for their selfless contribution to making a difference to the lives of the children in the village by providing them with a positive educational environment which we take for granted in Singapore. I am certain that their efforts have also touched the hearts of the local community beyond the physical and material outcomes of the project.”

He encouraged the participants to continue to do their part for the Sikh community and society at large. “I hope that the participants of the project will also continue to be involved in volunteering work, be it at the Association or other organisations, locally or abroad, so that more people will be touched by your good work.”

The project team exuded diversity. It comprised participants from various racial and religious groups, namely, 11 Sikhs, one Chinese, two Indians and two Malay/Muslims. This kind of exposure that the team had, living, working and eating together, helps Singaporeans to get to know one another’s culture and breaks down barriers between them.

Ms Nithiya D/O Karuppiah, a participant, stated that, the project was extremely meaningful for her. “I lived and worked with fellow participants from different races and religion during the project. We shared good time and difficult times during the trip. All these have certainly helped me better understand those around me in Singapore.”

Another participant, Abdur Raheem Basith, added, “The project gave me a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I know that I have helped someone in need of help but, more importantly, by providing the help, I believe I became a better person. I have gained personally and professionally. I would like to continue such voluntary work in Singapore.”

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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