For the past two months, ex-Army Major Harpal Sandhu’s morning routine is set.
At 4 am when his family, and most of Delhi-NCR, is asleep, he gingerly takes his bicycle and pedals away for several kilometres. One would think that he is doing it for fitness, considering his ex-army back ground, but there is one more reason for this strict schedule. Sandhu is on a mission to raise money for children in distress. His first target is to clock in 6000 kilometres by the en of this year and raise nearly Rs 3.5 Lakh (or 4000 Pounds as he puts it).
Beginning July, Sandhu, 37, who works as manager, facilities at Gurgaon office of GSK consumer healthcare, has been aiming at travelling 1000 kilometres every month appealing people to contribute one pound (Rs 88) for every kilometre he pedals. He has already covered 1500 kilometres and raised nearly Rs 1.5 lakh. In July he covered 1009 kilometres. In August he has travelled 500 kilometres, though behind his target.
“I knew I cannot raise money out of my own salary. So I decided to make full use of the platform provided by my company,” Sandhu said. He pedals from his house in Dwarka to nearby towns like Murthal, Faridabad, etc. to cover the target. The money will be donated towards non-governmental organisation (NGO) Save the Children.
In October this year, Sandhu, the father of two, will also take up a 800-kilometre road trip challenge from India Gate to Wagah Border in Amritsar. Later in 2017, he is set to go on a five-day trek to Mount Kenya, an adventure ‘Trek for Kids’ organised by his company in collaboration with Save the Children. The trek received 656 applications from 55 countries, out of which 40 champions, including Sandhu, have been selected by representatives from GSK Global, Save the Children, and a professional trek company - World Expeditions.
What ignites the spark in Harpal is when he receives a donation from one of his colleagues further motivating him to pursue the cause.
Apart from his friends, family and colleagues, Sandhu is primarily raising money online through his fundraising page. The link of the page has been shared among family, friends and colleagues. Also, while he is cycling he appeals to people to donate for his cause.
“More than the money, what overwhelms is how people, known and unknown, are donating for the cause,” Sandhu said. Apart from his friends, family and colleagues, Sandhu is also raising money online through his fundraising page.
Hailing from Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, Sandhu joined the Short Services Commission and passed out from Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai in 2004 and worked with Army till 2009 with his last posting in Baramulla district of North Kashmir.
Taking up social causes is in Sandhu’s blood. His 65-year-old father, NS Sandhu, would contribute 10% of his salary, as part of Sikh ritual ‘Dasvandh’ to an NGO in Amritsar, without fail, after he got a permanent job in Power Grid Corporation. ‘Dasvandh’ refers to the practice among Sikhs of contributing one-tenth of their earnings towards social causes.
“My father lived in a lesser-known village Shankarpura in Gurdaspur. In the beginning of his career, he would even have to climb poles as part of his job. But when he was regularised, he would donate part of his salary for social causes,” Sandhu said.
His family is the biggest support. He beams with pride when his children share his cycling expeditions with their friends and ask them for contribution.
“With the kind of support that I am getting from family and friends, the task doesn’t seem much difficult,” he said.