Eager to come home from the US to do well, Sunny Singh founded the RoundGlass Foundation, which works for the holistic development of Punjab through education, skills training, environmental conservation and more.

Since 2019, more than 10 lakh seedlings have been planted in 978 villages in Punjab. Up to 14,000 students are enrolled in 54 ‘Learning Labs’ for education, and the opportunity to realize their athletic dream through 263 sports centres. Nearly 122 villages have efficiently managed their waste.

This huge influence in the state is the result of Sunny (Gurpreet) Singh’s years-long efforts.

As a little boy, Sunny was always the kid with many questions on his mind – whether it was for school projects or things he saw as life progressing.

I would watch construction workers and domestic workers return from work with their young children who were my age. Children don’t go to school, and they don’t have a future because of the conditions they were born into. Nor can their parents, as much as they want, afford their education,” India’s best.

Sunny moved to Seattle for further education and began working for companies such as Expeditors International and Microsoft. In 1996, he started Edifecs – a healthcare company. While he was doing exceptionally well, the itch to do something for his country remained with him.

“As a kid when I watched these kids, I used to feel bad for them, but I couldn’t do anything about it. But as a man with his own business, I knew I could do something because I had the means, the talent, and the resources,” he says.

Sunny came to India in 2014 to found the RoundGlass Foundation, an organization that aims to promote holistic well-being in Punjab – from education to managing waste and promoting sustainable living. So far, he says, he has reached 1,442 villages across 23 districts like Fatehgarh, Mansa, Saas Nagar, etc.

For every citizen of Punjab to grow together

Sunny explains, “What we want to do with our initiatives is to make 12,500 villages in Punjab environmentally clean, while also making them financially sustainable, so that they don’t have to leave their villages. We have reached (about) 1,500 villages so far,” says Sunny.

The Foundation has four initiatives – Sustainability Punjab, Hare Punjab, Sports Punjab and Learn Punjab.

Explaining how each works, he says, “Through Learn Punjab we are trying to provide education to village children in such a way that they understand how the world works. We are not doing textbook knowledge. Our aim is to make them think outside the box and help them have good communication skills.” “The way people think is so limited. We aim to break that barrier. The courses cover everything from agriculture and artificial intelligence to space science.”

“Sports Punjab is about getting kids to go out for an hour or two a day to do sport. The idea was simple, I drew four lines and gave some kids four footballs. Soon more and more gathered, and now, we have tennis and volleyball courts, soccer fields, etc., with professional trainers.”

“Children come out of the learning labs, get active and come to their sports training. Their schedule is busy – they study, they play and they go home. Now their lives have a purpose instead of playing.” Julie Dandawandering or doing drugs, “the worst”.

Talking about the sustainability of Punjab, he said, “We plant small forests and trees in the villages and the villages take care of them. We also make compost from the solid waste from the houses. It is all made organically and can be used as fertilizer by the farmers. This led to the villagers feeling clean and they started complaining to Sarpanch If a garbage collector doesn’t come even for one day, we have reached 122 waste management villages but hope to expand it to every village in the state.

“Another initiative of the foundation is Her Punjab, where we have set up self-help groups and a sanitary pad unit where they learn how to make and manufacture sanitary pads and earn money. We also help them set up beauty salons, etc., to help them use whatever skills they have and become financially independent when they are not. Being submissive to the male family members, they can stand up against the abuse and early marriage that takes place. When a mother was independent, she would stand up for her daughter, and so forth,” he adds.

Through their ‘Her Punjab’ initiative, they have set up self-help groups and a sanitary pad unit to help women gain independence. Image credit: RoundGlass Foundation

Rajinder Kaur, a victim of domestic violence, gets a job in a flower nursery and is now able to earn a living. After experiencing continuous violence for seven years, in 2020, she left her husband’s home. Her father introduced her to the institution, where she trained in the relevant knowledge and skills under Her Punjab initiative.

“My husband used to beat me for no reason. Everyone forced me to give him a second chance. Now my life has changed radically,” she says.

“Working in the nursery gave me the courage to stand up for myself. Before that, I was always nervous and the work itself helped me calm down. I am happier because I can give my children a better future.

My heart is in Punjab

Although Sunny has spent a large part of his life in Seattle, he says his heart belongs in the villages of Punjab.

“I have a special relationship with Punjabis. I have spent a lot of time with the villagers and you will cry if you witness their hospitality and the kind of affection they will give you. The warmth and love they will shower you with will be nothing like you have experienced it before,” he says.

Sunny says he feels connected and attuned to the people of Punjab. “I feel that these are my people, my land and my culture and I resonate with them and therefore I want to work with them. That is why I feel I am the right person to do this work in Punjab.

The RoundGlass Foundation is working on an open source policy that also focuses on helping similar organizations and teaching them the tricks of the trade.

That’s why I wanted to go beyond basic CSR. I wanted to create a space that actively engages and drives responsibility for creating social change. I see a problem and want to find a solution immediately. I want other organizations to come and learn with us and spread the work to other countries as well.”

“I hope the work RoundGlass is doing in Punjab will inspire others and make the Sunny Singhs say ‘let me do something similar.’ One day, through the joint efforts of organizations like RoundGlass, we can improve life in all villages in the country and make it sustainable.”

“What I have learned is that I want to uplift my people and be of service to humanity. If someone comes to me with options to get a billion dollars or do a good job, I will part with the money. I want to leave behind a good place for my children and the children of the world. I will continue to do that for the rest of my life.” he says.

Want to contribute to Sunny’s efforts or volunteer in his work? You can access it in the administrator website RoundGlass Foundation.

Edited by Divya Sethu


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *