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13 February 2008

Walking with God

Sikhs are asked to give 10% of their earnings to charity - but for one man, giving goes even furtuer

By Balwant Grewal

Many of us believe in God, and I am one of them. But we have different ways, different languages to practice the presence of God – and we all believe in one God. I was born in a Sikh family, so I was taught the values of Sikhism by my parents.

Sikhism is a relatively new faith. Our first prophet (guru) was Guru Nanak who came into this world in 1469, followed by nine others.

In Sikhism we are asked to offer 10% of our earnings towards charitable causes, to the needy and to unfortunate fellow beings.

I am a life member of a charitable body called the India Association, which has been running for the past 25 years – where no salaries or wages are paid to any member. It is run solely by voluntary help.

I am almost retired now, and in 2001 my faith urged me to help the needy through the India Association. So I decided to run the London Marathon for The National Blind Children Society, to raise funds for the blind children. I completed the Marathon with flying colours and a handsome amount of money was donated to the Blind Children Society.

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I was so encouraged by the London Marathon that I decided to have another go through the India Association. In November 2004, I went to the North of India and walked 2,500 miles to the extreme south of the country. It took me five months to complete the walk. I slept rough and ate poorly, but I enjoyed every minute of that walk.

The result was that the members of the India Association, their friends, relatives, general public and the people in India, helped to raise £100,000 for cancer and AIDS Research. This money was donated to Bowel Cancer and AIDS Research at Northwick Park Research Institute for Medical Research (NPIMR) on 24th August 2007 at a contributory gala dinner.

My effort to raise funds and awareness towards bowel cancer did not end there. I am planning to walk from the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, from 4 June to 9 July this year. Please support and also walk with me for a day or two or a week or two – or as long as you wish.

God Bless you all.