by Kevin Diakiw
As a child, on each of his birthdays, young Sukhmeet Sachal went to Pingalwara near Amritsar in India to donate his gifts to kids in need.
Poor, abandoned and mentally disabled children call the Pingalwara Charitable Society home.
Sachal was struck by what he saw.
“The first time I went, I was in shock that people are different like this,” Sachal says. “It made me realize how people around the world are living and I can make a change.”
For Sachal, the seed had been planted for the Sikh practice known as seva (selfless service).
In Grade 3, he and his family came to Surrey, and Sachal soon began applying those principles here.
In Grade 7, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, a youth group that involves a lot of volunteerism and fundraising for the less-fortunate.
After that, there was no stopping Sachal, who is now 17. He ventured into the debate club, the Global Awareness Club, iDEAS 36 (student leadership), student council and Cure for Cancer Club.
He also started Students Without Borders, which has raised $5,000 to build a well in Kenya, as well as distributing food to those in need. The work continues on another well and even more food distribution.
Then, on Father’s Day in 2009, when two Surrey teens were killed by their stepfather, Sachal moved to help organize an empowerment night at his school – Tamanawis Secondary – to end domestic violence.
The list of his work continues.
All the while, he remained undistracted from his studies at Tamanawis, where he holds a 4.0 Grade Point Average.
Sachal recently caught the attention of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which awarded him the Student Ethics Award last week.
The $2,250 scholarship is awarded to a student with the greatest dedication, integrity, and academic excellence.
“Sukhmeet showed true leadership and is wise beyond his years,” said Lynda Pasacreta, BBB president and CEO. “Not only did Sukhmeet meet our academic requirements, he also put in nearly 1,600 hours of his own personal time to take the lead in a wide range of activities that have positive local and even global impacts.”
Sachal’s plans are to study sciences at university, then become a medical doctor.
“My long-term goal is to then apply my knowledge and serve alongside Doctors Without Borders to provide for those lacking in basic medical care in underprivileged areas,” he says.
Sachal says he gets his drive to give back from his parents, who are also very involved with non-profit initiatives.
As to how he finds any time to be a 17-year-old, Sachal says it’s a matter of being organized.
He describes himself as a compulsive planner, who schedules both his work and his free time.