Despite all the hardships this social activist went through in her own life, her role as the backbone of her family shone.
SELF-MADE social activist Manjeet Kaur Sidhu identifies parenthood and its involvement in the Sikh community as the inspiration for their labor of love in society. Through these activities, she was exposed to the charitable work and teachings of Waheguru Ji during her childhood years.
A single parent for 27 years, she has raised four sons, faces the death of Trishenjit Sidhu, one of her twins who died in a car accident at the age of 22, and is proud to have sent her kids at university.
Manjeet has also cared for her frail nonagenarian grandmother for three years, and as a daughter, she knows what it’s like to care for a critically ill mother – she has it. got the taste by breastfeeding her own mother, who later recovered after an operation.
The ups and downs of her own life and her sensitivity to others become a stimulus for her to carve out a role for herself in society and develop a positive passion for life. As a single mom, Manjeet runs a business to support her family, focusing primarily on her boutique selling Bollywood clothing and accessories, souvenirs and crafts.
Noteworthy is her contribution to the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) held annually in Kuching, for which she was awarded the “Best Ticket Reseller” award for several consecutive years by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) – a feat that says a lot about her. fighting spirit. Enterprising and active, Manjeet never lacks income-generating activities.
“Give in or rise with resilience”
” Life must continue. With all the hardships and trials we face, we can either give in to despair and bitterness and get caught up in it, or choose to deal with them and rise up resiliently. There are many lessons we can learn from the complexity of life.
âDealing with the storms in my own life gives me the ability to relate to the suffering of others. I feel called to give back to society and to do more good, âshe said. Sunday post in Kuching.
In the pursuit of her noble cause, she joined a political party of which she quickly led one of its female branches. It was during her involvement in the party that she was appointed a councilor to the Kuching South City Council (MBKS), making her the first Punjabi woman to hold the post. She remained a counselor for six years. As she had expected, the new sphere gave her a better understanding of people’s problems and sufferings.
As a female leader of a political party, Manjeet made it a point to regularly visit nursing homes and hospitals, especially cancer wards and children’s wards. Often times, she had to tap into her purse to help poor patients who needed financial assistance, especially those from rural areas. Even to solicit donations among friends, she would be, as the first engine, the first to contribute.
âIt’s easier to preach when it comes from the heart,â she said.
Manjeet was personally committed to giving back to society with steadfast determination. One of her obvious traits as a counselor had been her relentless efforts to help with reported cases. She would quickly be on the ground.
There was one occasion when she went out of her way to help a nine-year-old stateless child (born without a birth certificate) secure a place in a public school. It was only recently that Malaysia’s Ministry of Education (MoE) decided to give stateless children the opportunity to get an education while they wait for their personal documents issues to be resolved.
In her efforts to help the child, she spoke to the principal, went back and forth between the education department and the school, and sought all the help she could find.
She was even nicknamed “Jeet Ganas” (Aggressive Jeet) in the process, but she took it in good spirits as long as she could help the poor kid get a formal education.
His efforts paid off: after several months of drawing attention to the case, the child was finally enrolled in school.
âIt’s not easy to get out of poverty. You need an education to fall for. My heart goes out to the children who are denied basic education because they do not have a birth certificate or simply because their parents are poor, âshe said.
Since then, Manjeet has worked closely with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Community Welfare, Women, Family and Child Development to help stateless people in urban and rural Sarawak accelerate their request for citizenship.
She is also a familiar face in the welfare department of the ministry. Whether it was a homeless person or an orphan or a poor single mother and so on, she would hasten to refer their cases to the ministry.
Charity action platform
It was in 2018 that she created a company, Pertubuhan Pembangunan Insan Sarawak (PPIS) and became its founding president. The foundation of the non-governmental organization (NGO) was mentioned by a friend she met at a business workshop in Ipoh, Dato Jasvinder Singh Dhillion. An ophthalmologist, Jasvinder was also president of Perak Pertubuhan Pembangunan Insan Sikh.
Manjeet’s penchant for service to humanity caught Jasvinder’s attention. Seeing his seriousness and his potentials, the latter gave him the motivation to create a platform to continue his service for the cause of humanity.
With his moral support, Manjeet took up the challenge and thus, the foundation of PPIS.
âNow I have a solid platform. PPIS is a multiracial NGO whose members are from all walks of life and passionate about charitable work. We were able to secure a small grant from Majlis Persosialan Sarawak last year to benefit our charitable work.
âSince its inception, PPIS has actively reached out to the poor and needy, made possible in large part by cash and in-kind donations from the public,â said Manjeet.
During the lengthy Covid-19 pandemic, Manjeet is leading the company in joining other NGOs and concerned people to provide food to frontline people in hospitals, clinics and testing centers, as well as staff at the army and the police who deal with roadblocks.
She also takes the opportunity to help single mothers and widows, the ones PPIS has helped develop their income-generating skills, by ordering food for them. âThe idea is to help the ladies to be self-sufficient even during the MCO (Movement Control Order),â she added.
The impact of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods and health makes her feel that she must do her part in any way possible to help alleviate the situation. In addition to delivering food, she gets members of her organization to volunteer at vaccination centers as assistants and helpers.
“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into it.”
Teaming up with other NGOs and religious groups, she traveled to several villages in and outside Kuching to deliver food baskets to families in need during the pandemic.
The social disruption caused by Covid-19 has been devastating. Many households are suffering from loss of income and jobs, and businesses are closing.
âDonations are not enough in the long run. They are only partial help for now. As we give, we also hope that recipients would soon be in a position where they no longer need donations.
âYou can be a professional,â Manjeet said, âBut there is nothing wrong with trying a low income job. Now is not the time to be choosy – just take any job we can find.
âOn the positive side, it’s encouraging to see how people are prepared to do just that to survive the tough times. The income may be meager, but there is food on the table.
Serving the cause of humanity gives Manjeet a better understanding of life.
By giving back to society, she learns benevolence and great moral values.
âBy helping to alleviate the suffering of others, we become better human beings.
âReaching out to the underprivileged, the poor and the sick increases our empathy and love for our fellow human beings, regardless of color, race or religion.
âAnd that gives me more confidence to do the job better. “
The saying âcharity begins at homeâ is increasingly true. Despite all the hardships Manjeet went through in his own life, his role as the backbone of his family shone. Today, as a mother of three working grown children and her mother’s daughter, Manjeet remains loyal to charity at home as she reaches out to others.
Having carved out a determined role for herself in society, she continues to serve with passion the noble vocation in which she has been engaged since her children were little.
âWe don’t have to be rich to be able to help others. Even though we are poor, we can still be of help – as long as you want to, you can do it, âManjeet said.