Volunteering helps me truly appreciate life – from India to the Olympics, the Invictus Games and beyond
Moving to Australia from India at 15 years old, Amar Singh gravitated toward what he knew best to connect with the community – volunteering. As a child he remembers helping out at his temple and community events.
“Volunteering was a way of getting to know the people around me, becoming a part of the community. Getting involved and giving back is important and that’s who I think I am as a person. When we choose to be somewhere and to help, we open our minds and hearts, we pick up good vibes and make the world a better place.”
During school Amar started supporting the Red Shield Appeal and NRMA Careflight, amongst other charities and causes, by door knocking to raise funds, then after finishing school he applied to volunteer for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
“It was such an amazing experience to be a part of – to showcase your country and your own culture and show the world how diverse we are as a nation. You get to give back while watching some of the most inspiring people from around the world compete.”
Loving the atmosphere of large sporting events, Amar couldn’t resist applying to support the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and upon hearing about the Invictus Games taking place in Sydney the same year, he knew immediately that he wanted to be involved, landing the role of Liaison Officer for Team UK.
“As a Sikh, my Grandfather served in the Indian Army. The Sikh regiment were considered the most fierce in WW1 and WW2. If Invictus was around back then, I imagine for the thousands who returned injured, they could’ve made a better life for themselves. My service with Invictus was to honour their sacrifice – my way of thanking them.”
Highlight moments for Amar from the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 included watching wheelchair rugby at Olympic Park, describing it as ‘like dodgem cars on steroids – it was serious game on’ and seeing triple amputee Mark Ormrod compete.
“Unbelievable – he just shows that no matter what life throws at you, you’ve still got the power inside to change your situation and be the best you can be.”
Alongside volunteering for world stage events, Amar established ‘Turbans 4 Australia’ in 2015. A charity that supports Australians experiencing hardship, Amar and his team transport emergency goods to those in need, providing supplies and support to flood victims, those impacted by bushfires, hay to farmers in drought and creating and delivering food hampers to people in isolation during lockdowns.
The food relief hampers are an ongoing initiative, with up to 450 being provided weekly to those struggling with food insecurity from locations in both Sydney and Melbourne. Given that more than half a million households in Australia are struggling to put food on the table day to day, with the rising cost of living being the most common reason, the food relief program is desperately needed.
It’s no surprise that Amar was recently a recipient of an Australian of the Year Local Hero Award for NSW, honouring his dedication and commitment.
But he won’t be stopping there. Always seeking ways to support people in any way he can, Amar’s latest venture will take him on the road for 25,000km.
“I’m planning to do a roadshow around the country to promote The Voice to Parliament to multicultural, ethnic and religious groups. As a society we need to understand the pain and suffering of the First Nations people and make society a better place – if that’s through a referendum, then let’s just get it done.”
During COVID-19, Amar worked alongside Australian Defence Force personnel, as they helped twice a week preparing food relief hampers and was amazed at the pace the ADF crews worked.
“The ADF members would pack 1,000-1,200 hampers each week. I was honoured to be working alongside them, supporting the community.”
Amar is clearly an advocate for the power of volunteering, and he encourages veterans and their families to seek out opportunities wherever they can.
“Volunteering in general is great for socialising and connecting – get involved with local charities and clubs, you’ll get so much more back than you put in. Ex-military folk are designed to get things done. Your skills are valued everywhere – your local community will appreciate it.”
With everything Amar has done to give back and support others, how does he personally benefit?
“Volunteering makes me a better person, it’s helped me to grow and to truly appreciate life.”
Words by: Lisa Carlberg
About Invictus Australia: Invictus Australia encourages veterans and their families to connect and engage with their communities through sport. Whether participating or volunteering at grassroots level, to competing internationally at an Invictus or Warrior Games, Invictus Australia leverages the power of sport to proactively foster good health and aid in recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. Invictus Australia promotes the physical, social and emotional benefits of sport for all, and shine a light on the unique needs of younger veterans, particularly the challenges associated with transitioning from military to civilian life.
About the Invictus Games: The next Invictus Games will take place from the 9th – 16th September, 2023 in Dusseldorf Germany. Invictus Australia, in partnership with the Australian Defence Force, will support 31 former and current serving competitors as part of Team Australia. The Invictus Games is an international adaptive sporting event for serving and former serving military personnel who have been wounded, injured or become ill during their military service. Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, is the Patron of the Invictus Games. The Games uses the healing power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and celebrate the crucial role played by family and friends.
If you would like to support Amar’s work with Turbans 4 Australia with their food relief program, they are welcoming volunteers to assist with packing and distributing food hampers at their Sydney branch in Clyde and Melbourne branch in Thomastown. For further details, please visit the Turbans 4 Australia website.