Aman Singh: A Veteran Volunteer at 18
What Aman Singh saw during his childhood travels in India and last year in Iquitos, Peru, have motivated him to make a difference in people’s lives.
“Growing up, my family and I would travel to India to visit our extended family. It was there that I first saw a lack of access to quality healthcare,” says the 18-year-old Hockessin resident. “As a child, it would hurt me to see kids my age on the street unable to bathe, without access to clean clothing, and malnourished. These experiences made me want to spark change within my own community.”
At age 7, he began volunteering at Global Youth H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, Leadership Program), a non-profit in Newark that aims to improve lives by training young people to take action and become leaders in their communities. In ninth grade, Singh took charge of two of the agency’s projects—the distribution of hygiene packages and backpacks filled with school supplies.
Sadhana Pasricha, co-founder of Global Youth H.E.L.P, says that in addition to Singh’s busy academic coursework at the Charter School of Wilmington, he takes the lead role in executing, budgeting, fundraising, purchasing, recruiting and training volunteers for these projects.
For his efforts, Singh in May received a Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Award.
To pursue his interest in healthcare, last year Singh went on a two-week medical mission to Peru through a program offered by Johns Hopkins University. In poverty-ridden areas, doctors from Michigan and Pennsylvania, along with medical students, set up makeshift clinics to provide free medical services. Singh took patients’ vital signs and helped translate for doctors and patients—he speaks fluent Spanish, Hindi and English.
In the past three years, through Global Youth H.E.L.P, Singh and Tower Hill student Krish Malhotra, 16, have donated more than 300 packages of toothbrushes, wash clothes, combs, soap, shampoo, and other hygiene products during the holidays to homeless shelters.
“These packages help us tremendously because otherwise we would have to purchase these items ourselves, and our budget is as slim as it can possibly be without compromising the quality of our services,” says Robyn Beck-Gott, executive director of Sojourners’ Place in Wilmington, which provides shelter and services to homeless adults.
Besides helping with cleanliness, the packages make residents feel they have something of their own “because when they come to us they come to us broken,” stripped of material goods and safety nets, says Beck-Gott. These simple items give them a sense of place, security and respect.
“There are many things we cannot control in our lives,” says Singh. “However, we have the ability to control the way we care for ourselves and our habits. Things like oral hygiene prevent bacteria from growing and causing illness. Ensuring proper hygiene is the first step to success and opportunities in the workplace or elsewhere.”
Singh and Malhotra also have given away more than 500 backpacks filled with pencils, crayons, notebooks and other school supplies to Wilmington organizations such as the YWCA Home-Life Management Center, Reeds Refuge Center and Faith Victory Christian Center.
Annually, Singh spends about $200 for hygiene donations and $800 for backpack donations. He and Malhotra shop at such places as Staples, Five Below, and Walgreens.
Singh says serving others gives him the opportunity to put his passions into action and grow as a person. “I have been very fortunate to live a privileged lifestyle, and being able to serve and help those in need is one of [my] greatest passions,” he says. “My parents instilled in me the value of serving others. It (volunteering) makes me appreciate all of the opportunities I have been given.”
Not surprisingly, Singh plans to pursue a degree in healthcare.
For more information on Global Youth H.E.L.P., go to @globalyouthhelp, facebook.com/gyhelp and globalyouthhelp.org.