Twenty young Singaporeans left on a journey of selfless and charitable service to aid underprivileged and needy school children in Punjab, India. They are part of YSA’s community service project team to Gurdaspur from 9 to 27 December 2009.

Mr Zainudin Nordin, Mayor, Central Singapore District; and Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, was the Guest-of-Honour for the send-off ceremony at the Central Sikh Temple in the afternoon on 9 December 2009.

Mr Zainudin lauded the participants for their service for the less privileged and stated that, “Much has been said about how our young are seen as apathetic and myopic in their world view. Such community-based efforts, particularly initiated by our youths, reflect that our youths are far from that. My experience in engaging our youths has convinced me that our youths are passionate and committed to what they do. They want to contribute. They want to be seen. They want to be heard. Expedition projects such as this provide excellent opportunities for our youths to showcase their leadership and organisational skills. With a multi-ethnic profile, the project provides excellent opportunities for youths from different ethnic groups to work, live and play together, share one common vision, one common value, one common destination.”

The project represents truly Singaporean ethnic flavour. It comprises participants from all the racial and religious groups in Singapore, namely, nine Sikhs, one Chinese, three Indians and seven Malay/Muslims. This is in line with Young Sikh Association (Singapore)’s efforts to be inclusive and to reach out to young Singaporeans from all walks of lives and backgrounds.

During the three weeks, the team will spend its time developing a library of 2,500 books in the school. It will also donate four computers for the library. At the same time, the team 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 as well as visiting places of cultural and historical importance such as the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Mr Hernaikh Singh, YSA’s President, stated, “Initially, we focused on several different projects in India. We then made a conscious decision to develop libraries in village schools, as these would be benefit not just the students and the teachers in the village school, but also the students from neighbouring schools and villages. They would benefit a larger group of people. At the same, the library would be a tangible reflection of the Singapore contribution in Punjab. Such community service projects certainly promote the ‘Singapore heartware’ in India.”

This is YSA’s ninth community service project to Punjab. It is supported by Jet Airways, the Youth Expedition Project at the National Youth Council, Lee Foundation, TriStar Electronics, and individual donors and well-wishers.

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