Amandeep Singh does not appear tired when he talks about the need for creating awareness on the ill-effects of tobacco.
He is raring to go even after cycling hundreds of kilometres across the country, having met students of around 22,000 schools. “I've met children from almost all states.”
He has visited students in Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, New Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. He is on his way to Kerala and was in Coimbatore on Saturday.
His anti-tobacco campaign started on January 1, 2008 from Bangalore after he saw students falling for beedi, cigarette and chewing tobacco. “I decided to create the awareness among students after I saw them spoil their lives by picking up the evil habits.”
The Punjabi teacher took leave from his school and began his journey. “I've taken a three-year leave, after not availing one during my 20-plus years of service,” he says.
He carries a stove, provisions and utensils to prepare his meal. “I cannot afford hotel food, for it is costly and don't want to rely on charity,” he reasons. His expenditure thus far: only Rs. 35,000.
Mr. Singh's family members support him. Occasionally he also receives non-monetary support from gurudwara of the city or town he is in.
“I put faith in God and started the campaign. There were occasions when I almost went without food but God has been kind to me and ensured that I got what I wanted.”
He says the most satisfying part of the campaign has been calls from people who said they had given up on using tobacco.
Amandeep Singh's anti-tobacco expedition started on January 1, 2008 from Bangalore