Twenty young Singaporeans set off on a journey of selfless and charitable service to aid underprivileged and needy village school children in Punjab, India, on 6 December 2015. They are part of YSA’s community service expedition. The team will return to Singapore on 27 December 2015.

On 3 December 2015, YSA organised a send-off ceremony for the participants at the Central Sikh Temple, Singapore. Mr Alex Yam, Member of Parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, was the Guest-of-Honour for the send-off ceremony. It was attended by family and friends of the participants as well as members of the Sikh and non-Sikh communities.

During his address, Mr Yam stated that it was an honour for him to attend the ceremony. Quoting the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, “Nir-dhan sar-dhan dono bhaaee” (The poor and the rich are both brothers), Mr Yam commented: “Seva (service) or selfless service forms the very bedrock of Sikhi, encapsulated in the Sikh mission of sarbat da bhalla or common good for all. We see this throughout the Sikh community, in the langar (communal kitchen) and kirtan (devotional songs) and community service.”

He went on to say: “Seva is both service to man and also worship of the almighty. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji further states that no worship is conceivable without seva.” In this respect, Mr Yam was heartened to see the 20 young Singaporeans coming together to perform seva together – to bring hope and Singapore’s well wishes to those in need. He wished the 20 sevadars a safe and fruitful seva and that they return enriched by their experiences.

The expedition has a very Singaporean flavour, with participants from all the racial and religious groups in Singapore – Sikhs, Chinese, Malay and Indians. This is in line with the Association’s effort to be inclusive and to reach out to young Singaporeans from all walks and backgrounds.

The team will spend its time developing a library of more than 2,000 books in the school. At the same time, it will clean up, refurbish and paint the whole school. It will also purchase chairs and relevant furniture for the classrooms in the school. The participants will also conduct teacher training workshops for the teachers and personal hygiene classes and interaction sessions with the children. They will also distribute toys and clothes to the children and needy in the local community. In addition, the team will spend time interacting with the local community.

The aim of the project is to provide the opportunity for Singaporean youths to address the educational needs of the host community. At the same time, the participants will be able to participate in meaningful service in aid of the less fortunate and, in doing so, experience a sense of civic engagement and social responsibility. The project will also raise an awareness and appreciation of the Sikh and Indian culture among the participants and enable them to understand the socio-economic development issues in Punjab and India. This will, in turn, help the participants better appreciate the own situation and conditions in Singapore.

The projects fit in well with YSA’s mission of creating world-ready young Singaporeans, accomplished by integrating their aspirations into the Singapore society, enhancing mutual understanding on issues of common concern and fostering friendships across ethnic groups in Singapore, the region and the world. The Association’s activities benefit both the Sikh community and Singapore at large.

The project is supported by the Youth Expedition Project at the National Youth Council, Lee Foundation, TriStar Electronics, Thakral Group, Modern Montessori International, Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) and SINDA Youth Club, and individual donors and well-wishers. Jet Speed is the travel partner for the project.

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