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Brampton’s Khalsa School Students Raise Money For ‘Younger Sister,’
A Neighbour Who Survived Deadly Fire But Lost Family





When Tanvir Singh Sarao arrived at school the morning of February 14, the 10-year-old boy saw smoke coming from a house opposite the school’s yard.

That morning, a Brampton house fire left three dead: Iftekhar Niazi and his wife Jyoti Kapadia and their 19-year-old daughter Amina Kapadia.

Their youngest daughter, eight-year-old Zoya Kapadia, was rescued by Sheldon Teague, 19, who was visiting a friend in the basement apartment of the house. She was taken to hospital with third-degree burns and smoke inhalation.

Tanvir Singh said he and his classmates were sad for the little girl.

“I’m 10, so we are really close in age,” he said. “That got me into, like, her perspective, and I could see how she felt. I felt really bad for her, so I decided that we needed to support her because she didn’t have any family and everything was gone.”

With the help of his Grade 5 teacher Banno Kaur Sachdev at Khalsa Community School, Tanvir and his classmates Jora Singh Sidhu and Avni Saxena organized a school-wide fundraiser.

“It was really devastating, because imagine you were the family,” said Jora, 10. “It’s really sad, so you need some support for that.”

About 1,000 students attend Khalsa Community School, a private Sikh school in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, which has a small high school wing of about 50 students.

Together, they’ve already raised $3,000 and they’re hoping to push that to $7,500 in the days to come, according to Banno Kaur, who said the goal is to generate enough funds to build an RESP for Zoya.

“The house is, actually, right behind our school, so they’re like our neighbours,” said high school student Yasmeen Kaur Bajwa. “We’re so blessed. We have food, shelter, education and look at her; she’s (been) in hospital.”

Banno said the school’s principal has pledged to match the total brought in by the students, which could bring the final donation close to $15,000. The plan is to then transfer that money in a trust to Zoya’s aunt and uncle, who live in the Greater Toronto Area, and are now caring for her since her release from hospital.

Other fundraisers have also taken place online to cover funeral costs of the family and Zoya’s medical and financial needs.

One has raised close to $11,000, while the other has reached nearly $50,000.

“I think all of us were very touched,” said Banno. “Everybody was very moved, because it just reiterates how uncertain life is, and it can happen to all of us. You want to do what you’d want people to do for you.”

The students have also created a gift basket to give to Zoya, which is filled with toys and notes wishing her a speedy recovery.

Yasmeen Kaur said she hopes the gift basket will bring a smile to Zoya’s face after the trauma she’s been through.

“Personally, I’m 17-years-old and I can’t imagine a life without my family,” Yasmeen said. “My brother is also nine years old, so seeing him in those shoes would really hurt me.”

Gurleen Kaur Josan, 15, said although she’s never met Zoya, she feels an emotional connection to her.

“I personally don’t have any siblings, so I consider her like my younger sister,” she said. “I should be helping her out.”

[Courtesy: The Toronto Star. Edited for]
March 8 2017

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), March 11, 2017, 12:15 PM.

"Vich dunia sev kamai-ai ta dargah baisan paia-ai” [GGS:25] - “It is selfless seva that ensures a place of honour in Waheguru’s Court." What a heart-warming, selfless example that is worth emulating by everyone, Sikh and non-Sikh.

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A Neighbour Who Survived Deadly Fire But Lost Family"

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