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Sikh Human Development Foundation Raises over $200,000 for scholarships for Needy Students in India


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    Washington, April 22, 2008: “It is a historic evening when some 700 members of our community have come together at one place to support young men and women of Punjab and neighboring areas who can’t afford higher education. We are gratified and we thank you for your vote of confidence”, declared Amarjit Singh Sodhi, Chairman of the Sikh Human Development Foundation, in front of a large gathering of 700 people at the Sheraton Premier Hotel in Vienna, Virginia, on April 6, 2008.

    Amar Jit Singh Sodhi, Chairman of SHDF, speaking at the occasion

    It was a gala dinner event organized by the Sikh Human Development Foundation, a Washington-based charity. Over $ 213,000 was raised at the Fund-raising Dinner, titled 'Umeedan di Shaam'. This entertaining event, attracting many leading personalities of the Washington area community, had Satinder Satti, the famous punjabi artist and an anchor of Zee TV in India,enthrall the guests with her songs and poems. She was the star attraction of the evening.

    Satinder Satti

    Gurvendra Singh Suri, CEO of Optimal Solutions Integration, Inc., and a prominent community leader from Dallas, Tx, was the Chief Guest. Gurvendra challenged the audience to donate generously to support higher education for children from low income families. He passionately appealed and said, “Your pockets are deep, our cause is noble. And, with our combined efforts, there is no way in this world we cannot provide education to every deserving Sikh student in India. Living in this country, we all know the importance of good education. Education is the foundation of a good life. It opens new vistas, new doors and new worlds. It replaces an empty mind with an open one. It is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world. We need your help in helping those hundreds of deserving kids who want to study further but cannot do so because of their unfortunate circumstances. I am sure, you have heard million times in your life, but I am going to say it anyway. That when you give unto others, it comes back to you, in one form or the other and in many folds. Much like when you light a torch to brighten the path for others, you brighten your own path too. So dear friends: Life is short, Be swift to love, and make haste to be kind. Because you will find, as you look back on your life, the moments that stand out, are the moments when you have done the things, for others."

    Gurvendra Singh Suri, Chief guest of the event

    He added, "We all have been blessed by the Almighty with good fortune and we need to give back to our community. This is not only our responsibility because we belong to Sikh faith but also our moral and social responsibility to take care of people who need our help. We believe 'why give them fish when we can teach them how to fish' and by doing so, we empower them to embark on their chosen career paths that will dramatically improve the quality of not only their own lives but the lives of entire families – breaking the oppressive cycles of poverty and lack of education for generations to come.”

    Gurvendra Singh Suri and his wife, Manjeet Kaur

    After the event, Mr. Suri said, “It was an honor to be amidst such an esteemed group of philanthropic people. The fact that we could raise such a big amount in a few hours speaks volumes of the compassion our community has. As inspiring as the first hand account of students who have been helped by SHDF was, what tugs my heart is that SHDF had to turn down some applicants because of lack of funds. I sincerely hope and pray that SHDF can call upon donors nationally and internationally, so that no applicant is turned down in future because of inadequate funds.”

    From left to right: G. Suri, Amar Jit Singh Sodhi, Ken Bajaj and Surinder Singh

    Highlights of the evening included comments by IT Industry icon and a leading Indian American in the Washington area, Ken Bajaj, who was honored for his past support to the cause of higher education. While delivering his remarks, he inspired the audience and said, “If we do not invest in the education of our bright young people, we are throwing away the future of our community.”

    Ken Bajaj

    He added, “In this world, you are better off being rich and stupid than poor and bright. We should all make sure that poor and bright kids get a fair chance to go to college. Higher education is the best investment one can make to succeed in life. Education is a great equalizer. So, let us make sure that the financial status of these kids is not an impediment to the realization of their dreams.”

    He declared, “We should not judge ourselves with what we have achieved, but by how many lives we have changed with our achievements.” Ken Bajaj gave a large donation in the evening and Surinder Singh, SHDF Council member, thanked him for his generous support.

    “Every scholarship brings a welcome journey from potential destitution to dignity. Such is its magic. It moves our youth from darkness to light; from bitterness, frustration and despair to a life of hope, gratitude and dignity. This program not only brightens the lives of the scholarship recipients; it also brightens the lives of their families and raises the status of the community.” Said, Amar Jit Singh Sodhi, while welcoming the audience.

    Dr. Rajwant Singh, Executive Council member of SHDF, along with Satinder Satti, appealed to the audience to donate and pledge their support. They went from table to table and made personal appeals. This created an excitement in the audience and soon checks and pledge cards started pouring in. Many in the audience donated large sums of funds ranging from $5000 to $10,000. Satti gave an example of Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, who himself received scholarships to continue his education. She pointed out "a person from a humble beginning reached the top because there was someone to support him for fulfilling his dream."

    Dr. Rajwant Singh and Satinder Satti appealing for funds

    Dr. Rajwant Singh at the end thanked the volunteers and the guests for their support in ‘making this event a great success’. He said, “ This is perhaps the first time that these many people have gathered for the cause of education for our youth in Punjab and North India.”

    Baldev Singh and Manmohan Singh Kohli being honored

    Other major donors and supporters who were honored during the event were SHDF Platinum Circle Member, Dr. Pavanjit Kaur Sawhney, Baldev Singh, Dr. Rishpal Singh Aujla and an SHDF supporter in Chandigarh, Manmohan Singh Kohli.

    Dr. Pavanjit Kaur Sawhney sharing her thoughts at the occasion

    Dr. Pavanjit Kaur Sawhney, who had recently traveled to India and met many of the SHDF scholarship recipients, shared her experiences and made a passionate appeal to the audience to support the program. Dr. Sawhney confirmed the effectiveness of the scholarship program of the Foundation in transforming the lives of the needy students.

    Supreet Kaur Malhi

    The event started with a Sikh hymn sung by Amrita Dang and powerful Dhol performance by Harjot Singh. This fun filled evening also featured a high energy Bhangra by the award winning MAR group and a solo Punjabi folk dance by Supreet Kaur Malhi.

    Harjot Singh playing Dhol

    SHDF officials with organization's patrons and benefactors: Navin Singh Sethi (extreme left) and Dr. Jatinder Kaur Sidhu (4th from left) and Dr. Baljit Singh Sidhu (3rd from left)

    According to the Mr. Gajinder Singh Ahuja, Secretary General of SHDF, “ the foundation awards scholarships without any distinction of caste, religion or gender. Mr. Ahuja stated that the foundation’s mission was to financially empower talented but resource-poor students and help them realize their full potential by improving their access to higher professional education. He said that 178 students had already graduated in various disciplines of engineering, medicine, nursing and many other professions. The funds raised here will be distributed to the scholarship recipients through the SHDF partner organization, Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council in Delhi, after the selection criteria is fulfilled.”

    Bhangra performance by MAR Group

    Voluteers who helped in selling tickets and preparing the materials for the evening were Parmvir Singh, Abinash Singh, Manpreet Singh, Ravinder K. Malhi, Sarabjit Singh Bakshi, Minoo Kaur Nandra, Dr. Kirpal Kaur Bajaj, and Meeta Kaur. Many volunteers who helped at the reception were Simran Kaur, Sehejneet Kaur, Satinder Sodhi, Saroj Kaur, Sahiba Kaur, Chawla sisters and many others.

    SHDF Executive members with Satinder Satti and Mr. Suri. From left to right: Dr. Rajwant Singh, Veena K. Oberoi, Gajinder Singh Ahuja, Amar Jit Singh Sodhi, Surinder Singh, and Dr. Harbaksh Singh Sethi

    Participants from Virginia Sikh community

    For more information, visit:
    15129 Winesap Drive North Potomac, Maryland 20878 USA
    Phone 301 963 3928
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