An Army of 10-yr-olds Collects Funds to Send 35 to College: GEORGE NEWCOMB
The Young Khalsa Girls of Washington, DC
Sleepovers for most young girls usually mean a night of pillow fights, junk food, non stop music and lots of girl talk. For a few girls from the Washington, DC area Sikh-American community, coming up with the idea of doing something to help others instead was indeed a pleasant surprise for their parents.
One of the guiding principles in the Sikh religion is the practice of "Seva". It means helping others, or providing service to humanity, without expecting to be rewarded in return. So it was on the night of the sleepover that the girls decided to put the practice into action.
Their parents spoke to them about attending a fundraising gala hosted by the Sikh Human Development Foundation (SHDF), a tax-exempt organization dedicated to helping Sikh youth. Part of the conversation was educating the girls to the fact that many adults throughout India earn less than the equivalent of one-dollar a day and are never able to afford the cost of undergraduate studies ($500.00 per year) for their college-aged children.
Moved by what they heard, the girls quickly decided to write a letter addressed to family and friends seeking small donations, hoping they would make a small difference. They used all available social media networks to reach as many people as possible.
The girls quickly realized they couldn't do it alone. They needed help. So they sought feedback on the letter from other girls. The group, all 10 years old, grew to eleven within a few days. It was all about teamwork for them, all about working together toward making the letter campaign a success.
The girls named their group the Young Khalsa Girls (YKG) and describe themselves as "an inspiring group of girls that are passionate about Seva." Khalsa means pure and one who is totally devoted to Sikhism without ego. The adult leader of the group is Leena Kaur, who they affectionately call "Coach Leena".
YKG's goal was simple: raise $500.00 to send one young person in India to undergraduate studies for a year.
Their efforts far exceeded anyone's expectations. The donations poured in.
Within a week they raised $17,000.00, or enough to send 35 students to college for a year.
"I was sharing with my daughter that famous quote that 'for those who much is given much is expected'. I want that to resonate and that for us is a big part of our faith. We must give back," stated parent Sarabjeet Kaur, referring to the practice of Seva. "We've been given this wonderful opportunity, this wonderful life. It is our responsibility to defend those who don't have, to protect those who don't have and to give back and to give back selflessly."
The young girls have earned plenty of praise along their journey. They were honored at the Gala which took place earlier this month. Most recently, they were given Rising Star trophies during a ceremony at the GNFA Khalsa School, which is part of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Foundation located in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.
"It feels really good because it really feels like we're making a change," stated one of the young girls. "We always hear that we can make a change, but we never thought it would be so easy that when we made this little step that it went such a long way."
"I feel proud of all of us and all the generous people who helped donate to this amazing cause to help all these kids go to college," added another of the young girls.
The Young Khalsa Girls plan to continue their fundraising efforts. To find out how you can contribute and to learn more about SHDF, please visit http://www.shdf.org/.
[Courtesy: Festival DC]
September 25, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Harpreet Singh (Delhi, India), September 25, 2012, 3:13 PM.
Amazing. Such a great accomplishment by these little angels who look and behave more mature than many of our gurudwara managements and political leaders. We can learn so much from them. My congratulations to them and their parents, and to those who have donated to their cause. These little angels will indeed change the lives of 35 financially weak Sikh students and their families and many more. This news must be shared across the diaspora so that all Sikh homes understand that they too can help others in this manner. There are many youth that could use such help. Considering how blessed we are as a community, there shouldn't be a single Sikh child and youth who lacks funds to pursue education. Our Sikligar brothers and sisters are equally needy of assistance in this regard. Please visit www.alittlehappiness.org and www.guruangaddev.org
2: Sukhdev Singh Laaj (Ludhiana, Punjab), October 01, 2012, 3:17 AM.
These children are doing a very good job. No community can prosper without education. Bhai Gurdas said, "jaise sat mandir kanchan ke usaar dine/ tehsa pun sikh ko shabad sikhai ke". Giving education to Sikh children is the same as constructing the seven temples. Let's come forward and serve the community through education. The population of Jews is less than Sikhs, but they have 180 Nobel prizes in their name, but Sikhs have not got even one yet. Our Sikligar and Vanjara communities are living in poverty and do not have resources for good and modern education for their children. They too need our help.