Teens to elderly volunteer at protest site

People from all age groups, professions working day and night to attend to the farmers’ needs at Singhu border

A 14-year-old girl who wants to participate in making history to a 76-year-old man from Fategarh Sahib who has been part of volunteering efforts for decades and a 26-year-old man who is supposed to get married in February next year to a 51-year-old businessman, there is a plethora of people making themselves available at the Singhu border.

The Hindu spoke with the four, who have been volunteering at the border under Khalsa Aid — an international NGO. The volunteers have been working round-the-clock attending to the needs of protesting farmers at Delhi-Haryana border.

Sher Singh, the oldest volunteer here, sat on a trolley with others from his village and started for Delhi on November 24 — exactly a month ago. When he reached here, the volunteers of Khalsa gave us blankets and other essentials, he recalled.

Main bohot khush hua [I was happy],” he said. Mr. Singh then asked the volunteers if he could also perform sewa. “They told me I am old and I should not perform sewa now. I told them I can work 24 hours a day and won’t feel tired,” he said, adding that now also, he does not feel the need to wear socks and sweaters.

Willingness to work

Mr. Singh said he did not have to go through the formal process with the NGO because his “willingness to work” made others let him. He comes in at 8 a.m. and leaves the spot at 8 p.m. after serving everyone’s needs. “Back at home, my wife and children are looking after our farm. I don’t have a phone. My family calls the people with whom I have come here. I talk to them once in 10 days,” he said, adding: “Morcha fateh karke hi jaenge [Will go only after the march is successful].”

A Class 9 student of a private school in Delhi, Jaap Kaur, has been volunteering at the kiosk since a week now. Her father is also a volunteer.

“I put up a WhatsApp status that I am a volunteer here. After seeing the status, my friends were left surprised and amazed,” she said. She also said her first stint at “sewa” was serving water two years ago. “Sab good wishes dete hain, usme bohot proud wali feeling aati hai [Everyone blesses me. It is a very rewarding].”

Ms. Jaap not only gives out necessary things to protesters but also helps in segregating materials from all the donations.

Gurpreet Singh from Patiala, a documentary filmmaker, has been associated with the organisation since he was 19. He had joined for a paid project but later, he told them that he would work for free. But for the last five years, he has been working full time with Khalsa Aid.

Mr. Singh’s wedding is on the cards and his family is worried for his health as he has recovered from COVID-19 just in August. “They just don’t want me to contract the virus again especially before the wedding,” he said.

Every night, Mr. Singh takes a stroll to check if all the elderly protesters are fine . “People come here during the weekend, take a look at all sorts of langars and leave the spot. They should stop and asked these old men and women if they are fine. It’s not easy. At this retirement age, when they should be more comforted, they are in fact most uncomfortable,” he said.

Tejinder Singh (51) from Jalandhar, a businessman, has been here volunteering for the last 18 days. He believes that he is earning more profits byperforming sewa. “I have experienced this before as well,” he said.

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