United Sikhs' humanitarian walk

United Sikhs walking along Jalan Trus, Johor Baru
Every year members of the Sikh community will meet in Malacca in memory of Sikh missionary, Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji, in what is considered the largest gathering of Sikhs in South East Asia.  This year’s event started with a Goodwill Walk from Singapore to Malacca that was organised by UNITED SIKHS to create awareness and goodwill in our multi-racial community and raise funds for humanitarian aid as well as to share their solidarity with the crew, passengers and families involved with flight MH 370.  The walk started from the Gurdwara or Sikh Temple at Silat Road, Singapore on May 17, passed through Johor Baru, Pontian, Batu Pahat and Muar in Johor before ending in Malacca on May 24.
Rishiwant Singh [Left] with David Atthowe braving the
wet weather in their walk in Singapore to the causeway
The United Sikhs is a Non-Governmental Organization affiliated to the United Nations that recognises the human race as one and has undertaken numerous humanitarian missions worldwide since the 2004 Asian tsunami, with their most recent relief mission in Panay Island, the Philippines, in the wake of typhoon Haiyan.  Goodwill Walk 2014 was led by Rishiwant Singh, popularly known as the Flying Singh, a RTM radio and TV personality, who is also the Humanitarian Aid Coordinator for the Asia Pacific Region of the United Sikhs.  

The Goodwill Walkers with the Sikh community
in Pontian, Johor, who hosted their stay there
“This was a real test of faith and a great challenge for me as I have never participated in such an event, let alone organise one.  But as I took each step, it breathed a new sense of motivation and inspired me to take the next step, and this kept me going,” said Rishiwant who was among the five participants who completed the entire 300km walk. 

“I must admit that the thought of giving up did cross my mind as I walked 10 hours a day under the blazing sun and through thunderstorms for 8 days from Singapore to Malacca.  But when we passed every kampong and were greeted by villagers of different races and ages, I was very encouraged especially when some of them joined us to walk a few kilometers.  It lifted my spirits and suddenly, I found the energy to carry on,” he added.

Rishiwant Singh [Right] distributing blue ribbons to
a stall holder long the route to Muar in Johor
At 6am when they started to walk from Silat Road, Singapore on May 17, the five participants – Rishiwant, Amanpreet Kaur, Dya Singh, Vikram Singh and David Atthowe – were joined by 30 members of the Young Sikhs Association (YSA). 
Just two hours into their walk, the skies opened and it rained quite heavily for the rest of their 25km walk to the causeway.  They had planned to walk across the causeway but as they did not have permission to do so, the participants were ferried into Johor Baru by transport.

Singapore Consul-General in JB, Ian Mak [Right] was
among the Goodwill Walkers from Muar to Malacca
As Rishiwant and the Goodwill Walkers journeyed from Singapore to Malacca, hundreds from the communities they passed, joined in the walk for up to 10 hours per day.  The 8-day-7-night grueling walk was not planned in a direct route between the two cities because they aimed to meet and interact with the local people along the way.  On their daily treks through Johor Baru, Pontian, Batu Pahat and Muar, the participants distributed blue ribbons printed with Pray for MH370 to share their solidarity with the crew, passengers and families involved with this incident and encouraged people to continue to pray for them.

The Goodwill Walkers were given a rousing welcome into
Malacca by the Sri Dasmesh Drum & Pipe Band
Every day, the first 2 hours of the walk was always in the dark so torches and headlights were used to light the way for the participants.  They experienced the morning cool that turned into blazing sunlight, witnessed beautiful sunrises and enjoyed rustic scenery as they walked through villages and passed farms.  Just outside Parit Jawa, the participants saw some children playing basketball who welcomed them to join in the game and later when they walked into Parit Jawa, they saw a lovely sunset – the perfect end to their day!

David Atthowe completed the entire walk from
Singapore to Malacca!
Every night the local Gurdwara hosted the participants with meals and accommodation before they set out on the next leg of their walk the following morning.  The event was made possible with generous sponsors and donors who provided practical, moral and material support including medical attention from the Bains Physio team who accompanied the participants from JB and gave first-aid for blisters, sprains and other minor injuries sustained during the walk.  Among the sponsors was MAS who provided 2 return tickets from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur for two celebrity participants, musicians Dya Singh and Vikram Singh, formerly known as Vic Briggs. 

[L to R] Head of Gerak Sikh Malaysia Datuk Amarjit Singh
Gill, Vikram Singh aka Vic Briggs, Dya Singh,
representative of Malacca Chief Minister Adun Bemban,
Dato' Ng Choon Koon and Surj Singh, one half of
Goldkartz, a Bhangra duo, celebrating the end of the walk!
At almost age 70, Briggs, was one of the oldest and most glamorous participants because he was the lead guitarist of The Animals, the 60s rock band that recorded a hit song in, House of the Rising Sun. 
While Eaahar Singh, aged 2 and a half, must have been the youngest participant, the youngest student who completed about 55km from Muar to Malacca was Standard 6 student, Sarasvati Kaur from SRJKC Chung Hwa 1B who will turn 12 on her birthday on June 10.
Among the participants were [L to R] Gavin Ang, Ian Mak
and Jeevan Singh
In the final leg of the walk into Malacca city, participants were buoyed up by the rhythm of bagpipes and drums from the Sri Dasmesh Drum & Pipe Band and a Dhol band as they were warmly welcomed into the Gurdwara by throngs of people.  Among the participants who joined this sector of the Goodwill Walk were the representative of Malacca Chief Minister Adun for Bemban Dato’ Ng Choon Koon, Singapore Consul-General in JB, Ian Mak, Singapore Consul in JB, Gavin Ang and First Secretary in Singapore High Commission, KL, Jeevan Singh. 
Almost RM50,000 worth of funds was raised through participant registrations, donations and sale of Goodwill Walk 2014 T-shirts that will be channeled to the Gurpuri Foundation which cares for orphans and children in need here and to other United Sikhs humanitarian projects worldwide.  For more info, visit: www.unitedsikhs.org

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 10 June 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment