A young internationally humanitarian-minded Sikh is the recipient of AFP Canada’s Outstanding Youth Philanthropist award for his work in Africa and native Punjab, India.
Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, whose father is the television talkshow host Harpreet Singh, received the award last Thursday for his humanitarian work.
Sachal says: “As the famous novelist James Baldwin once said, ‘The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimetre, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.’ I believe in creating change by applying my knowledge and contributing to the community through my positive ideals. Being a part of many community groups and spending time with others is what I love to do. Not only does my volunteering help others, but it also helps me in becoming a confident and socially conscious individual.”
“This award recognizes service by a young person or group of young people ages 12-23 who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the community through direct financial support, development of charitable programs, volunteering and leadership in philanthropy,” reads the awards citation.
In searching for a worthwhile cause, and wishing to make a difference Sachal recognized the great need for water in many communities in Kenya. He recognized that many Kenyan girls gave up the opportunity to go to school because they were needed to carry water to their communities. He also realized the need for his school mates to give back to their community.
Sachal says before coming to Ghana, he was extremely petrified about moving to a foreign land by myself for two weeks.
“People constantly told me to watch out for diseases, malaria, and that the people are not friendly in Ghana. All these opinions offered by people made me cautious and scared about making a trip from Canada to Ghana. Nevertheless, I followed my instinct and was determined to prove them wrong about all these suspicions they had about Ghana,” he said.
When I arrived in Ghana, life was very similar to that I have seen before- not my life in Canada, but the eight years of living in India. The smiles and the vibrant culture helped me feel right at home. For the first week, I volunteered at an orphanage where I could first hand that children are children everywhere with the same characteristics. But, instead of seeing the sad faces as always seen on television commercials, I saw these children having huge smiles. While money and toys do help them out, I realized that these children appreciated me a lot more than the toys and books that I brought for them. While I learned about their culture, they also learned about my Canadian background as I taught them about Canada Day on July 1st and gave them little Canadian pins as well. One little girl, Sandra told me, ‘You are my butterfly,’ and then she gave me a picture of a butterfly that we both coloured together so that I can always remember her,” he said
After organizing a Free the Children workshop at Tamanawis Secondary, he created and became the President of, Students Without Borders. He directed the club in surpassing their $5000 goal by raising over $7000.
His extracurricular activities outside of school are with Surrey Leadership Youth Council (organized an event to explore multicultural issues): BC Hydro Energy Ambassador Program and various other projects.
* University of Toronto 2012 National book award
* Student Ethics award winner
* Better Business award