Manjit Singh 60, is a World Vision supporter from Singapore. He is currently cycling across Canada to help young women from poor villages in India attend nursing school. I called Manjit to learn more about his pilgrimage, and this is a shortened version of that phone call.
Doug: Hello Manjit! Where are we reaching you today?
Manjit: In Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. I arrived from Regina last night, and am on my way to Swift Current.
D: So, what do you think of the Canadian Prairies?
M: Well, it’s not just the Prairies, but the whole of this country: Canada is far, far bigger than I imagined! And in some places, the towns are so far apart. I have to admit, there have been times where I had to take a train or a bus—or I’d have no place to stay at night!
D: And you started where?
M: St Johns, Newfoundland. If I’d known how strong and cold the winds were in Newfoundland, I might have started on the mainland! The plan was to average 100 km a day, but that is not possible. You have such strong cross-winds in Canada, it really makes it hard.
D: How are you feeling?
M: To be honest, exhausted. It’s been two months. It has been a physical and emotional challenge. But of course, I am not doing this just to cycle, but to raise funds for the girls in India.
D: Tell me more.
M: While I am riding alone in Canada, this is part of a charity cycling group I started, called Harmony on Wheels
. We are raising $50,000 in Singapore Dollars (about $49,000 CAD) to provide tuition support for girls in remote villages in Punjab, India.
With this money, 22 girls will be able to attend nursing school. It means a lot to them. It’s really quite remarkable. They will have good jobs—earning their own incomes. It is all part of a World Vision India program called Empowering Girls as Agents of Change.
(Above, Manjit is shown in India with a group of young women who received bicycles to help them get to and from school.)
D: How did you get involved?
M: I have been an active supporter of World Vision Singapore for more than 15 years. I am very familiar with their work through child sponsorship. Harmony on Wheels
has raised funds for things like computer training, and for bicycles so girls have a way to get to school and continue their studies.
We approached World Vision Singapore to see if we could do more. We have visited the work in India and we all agreed that nursing school support was a very worthy project. We always look to add value, and to support programs that are sustainable, with a good return to the community.
D: This is quite an undertaking Manjit. The question that comes to mind is, “Why? What drives you?”
M: I am thankful to God for so many blessings in my life. At some point, you ask yourself—what is all this for? And the more you reflect, you realize that it’s not about you, but about others, about the good you can do for others in the community. For Harmony on Wheels
, we see our community as the world. With the huge disparity in the world—I just think it is our responsibility to help.
D: Thank you Manjit. So, what are your impressions of Canada so far? Of Canadians?
M: Canada is grossly underpopulated at just 34 million people! This is a country the size of Europe, which has a population of 740 million! It’s not a bad thing, just my observation. But there are some very long stretches with no people! I have to say though, I have found Canadians very helpful. Anytime I have asked someone for help, they have been most gracious. Truly, the people I have met have all been wonderful.
Manjit plans to complete his cross-Canada ride by the end of July.