Bakti brings Vasakhi joy to only Sikh-run orphanage outside India

Beatrice Nita Jay

KUALA LUMPUR: Vasakhi celebrations at the Gurpuri Foundation orphanage and underprivileged children's home in Hulu Kelang today was made joyous with the presence of members of the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti).

The entourage, led by Bakti president Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, presented a RM20,000 cheque to the home and 90 hampers to the delighted children.

Gurpuri Foundation founder Giani Sukhdaiv Singh said that they were thankful to Bakti, which visits them every year, especially during Vasakhi celebrations.

Sukhdaiv, who also manages the home's operations, thanked the Association for their continued support and efforts to help the Foundation’s underprivileged residents.

“The Foundation and the Sikh community in Malaysia are very much touched by the visit from Bakti members, and grateful for the generous contributions given by them,” he said.

He added that donations from Bakti have helped the home tremendously in providing the children with shelter, food, clothing and an education.

Sukdaiv was proud to reveal that 105 residents of the home were able to pursue higher education and graduate in various fields, including accounting, mass communications and occupational therapy.

"Currently, we have 70 children (and youths), aged between 5 and 22.

"They all (go to) nearby government schools, receive regular (tutoring here), and some are furthering their studies at colleges and universities," he said.

Sukhdaiv also updated Bakti members on the progress of the Foundation's building project on a 17-acre plot of land in Bentong, Pahang.

He said they have obtained approval from the authorities for the first phase of the development, which includes a three-storey building, a single-storey building, a small business training centre for widows, and a vocational centre for school dropouts

“(As of now), the first building is completed and fully-furnished,” he said.

The estimated cost of the entire project is RM60 million.

Sukhdaiv thanked the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, for his support for the conversion of the Bentong land’s status from an agricultural site to a welfare institution site, which was made at a discounted fee.

The assistance allowed the foundation to save about RM131,000, he said.

The Gurpuri Foundation was established in 2000 and started with 18 children. It is the first Sikh-run welfare children's home in the world, outside of India.

Vaisakhi, which is the Sikh new year, falls on April 14.