EVERY YEAR, a team of around 20 volunteers of Young Sikh Organisation (YSA) from Singapore reach Punjab and stay for a fortnight in a village, in a bid to contribute towards renovating a school adopted by YSA. This year, volunteers will head to Rattoke village in Sangrur. The aim is to renovate Government Primary School, Rattoke, and construction of toilets, a library and an office have begun.
The 20-odd volunteers, aged between 18 and 21 years, will also paint the school building. The students are from Singapore-based schools and colleges and are associated with YSA as they are keen on being involved in community service. YSA was formed by NRI Satwant Singh, who is in his early 50s. He runs a law firm, Satwant Singh and Associates, in Singapore. Satwant’s parents were from Demru village in Moga. He was born in the US and later the family settled in Singapore.
Inderjit Singh Grewal, a close friend of Satwant based in Ludhiana, said, “So far, YSA has renovated 17 schools in Punjab and this will be the 18th. Earlier, the Singapore government was contributing 50 per cent of the funds, but now the YSA incurs the expenses on its own and relies on voluntary donations from Indians settled in Singapore.”
Grewal said the YSA members noticed media reports on Rattoke’s primary school where Surinder Singh and his wife Renu Singla are striving to “bring the best possible results”. The Indian Express had reported hat the school remains open till late evening and students also take up extra-curricular and sports activities after completing their homework. Every student is chosen for an activity based on his/her interests. The school wins several honours in cultural, sports and academics each year. There are 25 students in each class in the primary school. Renu and Surinder live in the village and don’t charge any fee from the students.
Grewal said, “After reading about the school, I had informed Satwantji, and he visited the school in May this year. He later decided that the NGO would adopt this school for this year.” The 20 volunteers – 10 boys and 10 girls – will be staying in the house of Sahib Singh, president of the management committee of Rattoke School. He will stay at another house for a fortnight as all the students wanted to live together. The students will paint the school with the help of local workers, said Grewal. The expenses of stay, food of volunteers will be borne by YSA, he added.