An association of local Sikh engineers is using the holiday season to give back to members of the community.
Members of the Canadian Sikh Engineers Association made the trip Sunday to the Country Village Home in South Woodslee, delivering care packages to senior citizens. The project is part of a process called Daswand, a key component of the Sikh religion, according to association founder Satnam Virdi.
"It means to take 10% of your wealth or your time and to put it back into the community in terms of Sewa," said Virdi, of Belle River, an engineer at Vistaprint. "So the idea rolled off and I took the route of time. If we have ten engineers and we take 10% of their work week that equates to 40 hours. That is 40 hours of engineering time that can be put back into the community as Sewa."
Sewa is another principle of Sikhism, a Punjabi term in which a community service or a good deed is performed without any expectation of receiving acknowledgement or repayment. The CSEA came up with the idea of helping senior citizens, and Virdi began checking local seniors homes.
"I got some input from the local Belle River community and obtained some contacts to homes nearby. I then later matched our capabilities of the association to the requirements of the homes and chose to go with Country Village Homes this year," said Virdi.
Ten care packages, ranging from games, to art supplies to physical activity ideas, were delivered to the 104-bed facility Sunday. This is the first of several such projects the CSEA plans to do this year, said Virdi.
The CSEA was formed with the idea that Windsor-Essex, with its large manufacturing sector and its strong presence in the auto industry, was home to many Sikh engineers. The association was an idea for Sikh engineers to get together in a social setting as well as in a community service motive.
"Sikhism has been around for a while and yet the society still cannot recognize Sikhs or knows what a Sikh looks like," said Virdi, a husband and father of two who was born in Singapore but grew up in the Toronto area. He has also lived for several years in Britain, where he met and married his wife Harpreet. Virdi said his goal is to put Sikhism in a positive light.
"The aim of this group is make ourselves visible and available to the society so we can breakdown any negative barriers or stereotypes that are attached to the turban," said Virdi. "As a Sikh, our turban stands us out of the crowd for one reason and that is to help others in need. Using the Canadian Sikh Engineers Association platform, we are able to make a positive impact within society as Professional Engineers."
With the CSEA in its infancy, Virdi said the process has been evolving.
"This is not a full blown engineering service but you still get exposure to some cool engineering experiences," said Virdi. "We aim to introduce training programs, speeches from industry leaders to help expand experience levels and to provide exposure to different fields of engineering for students, newcomers to the community or people interested in engineering as a career."
For further information about the Canadian Sikh Engineers Association, email email@example.com. Their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/CSEA.Sewa.