Chinese, Malaysian volunteers also paint walls, repair toilets, stock books in library.
Chandigarh: Punjabis are known for their love for foreign lands, there are several stories of how many of them made it big abroad. However, some of them payback and one such man is Satwant Singh from Singapore.
An advocate by profession, Mr Singh has helped financially many government schools in Punjab so that they have better facilities. He along with some other volunteers come to Punjab every year and adopts a government school to help.
It all began in 2003 when Mr Singh, a second generation Punjabi settled in Singapore came to the state for community service.
"In Singapore, youngsters are encouraged by the government to do community service. However, most of the people choose Indonesia and Malaysia for community work, but I decided to work in Punjab." In 2003, Mr Singh helped a private school near Ludhaina," Mr Singh recalled.
This was the only private school Mr Singh had helped and since then he has helped 17 schools in the state, which were in dire need of financial assistance. And, all of them are government schools.
In this regard, Mr Singh formed an organisation in Singapore - YSAS Young Sikh Association Singapore - and every year around 20 volunteers come to Punjab along with Mr Singh and help the school they have adopted.
Mr Singh, who travels three times in a year to Punjab to monitor the school's upkeep, said most of the volunteers who come to Punjab usually return to the state once again. "We always stay with a villager at the village or town or city where we are helping a school. Instead of hotels, the love and warmth we receive from the villagers is their biggest reward from the service," he said.
Jasvir Singh Kukku, a villager who monitors the infrastructure of a school, said, "The YSAS is working to change the fate of government schools, especially those in a shabby condition since 2006. In 2015, Mr Singh and a group of 20 students came to our village and stayed at my place for around 20 days. During that time, they virtually transformed the school. Apart from getting the school painted, they installed a 10KV sound proof generator (cost Rs 1.25 lakhs), two RO machines, water coolers, computers, printer and scanner, 15 chairs and tables and provided 3,200 books and racks. This apart, they got the school ground filled up with sand (200 trolleys) where water logging was a constant problem, especially during monsoon."
Interestingly, the volunteers who accompany Mr Singh are not all Sikhs, some of them are Chinese and Malays! These volunteers give a face-lift to the school by repairing the cleaning and maintaining the toilets, painting the school's boundary wall and the like. They had also put up a library in the school and stocked it with many books.
Last year, Mr Singh and his volunteers had chosen a school named, Kargil Martyr Shaheed Sukhchain Dep Singh Senior Secondary School in Ghudani Kalan village of Ludhaina district.
The group of 20 students and Mr Singh had spent around Rs 15 lakh on the school's infrastructure and had worked in changing the shape, literally, of the school.
For a noble cause