Abbotsford schools' Vaisakhi celebration fundraises for 2 boys, grandmother hit by car
Megan Devlin, CTV Vancouver
Published Saturday, April 14, 2018 5:59PM PDT
A community is rallying around the family of two young boys and their grandmother who were hit by a car while walking to school last month.
Staff and students at Rick Hansen Secondary School in Abbotsford, B.C. started raising money to help the family at the school's annual Vaisakhi celebration.
"Our staff recognized that this family was struggling and needed help and we wanted to do something to support them," said principal Dave de Wit.
The grandmother, Manjit Kaur, died in hospital about two weeks after the March 12 collision. Her five-year-old grandson Fateh suffered a broken femur and is still recovering. Two-year-old Gurmuk escaped with minor injuries.
Baljinder Mullhi, the boys' father and Kaur's son-in-law, said he's taken two months off work and his wife Kamaljit has quit her job to care for the boys.
"There's a lot of stitches in [Fateh's] forehead. He's having headaches and for that reason it hurts," said Mullhi. "As for the leg, he can't put weight on it. He can't walk."
Both of the boys still have nightmares about what happened, and their parents are trying to stay strong for them while they mourn.
Kaur had been visiting from India to help care for the boys and walked them to school every day.
Mullhi said that on top of grieving Kaur's death and helping their sons recover, the family is also facing thousands in health care bills from the two weeks Kaur stayed in hospital before she died.
As a foreigner, she wasn't covered by provincial health insurance. She had a visa and separate health insurance, but Mullhi said the paperwork is still being processed by ICBC.
But the community has stepped in to help.
On Saturday, high school students and staff presented the family with a cheque for $1,000. A GoFundMe page has also been set up to accept further donations.
Vaisakhi is a Sikh holiday commemorating the foundation of the Khalsa and marks the beginning of the Punjabi harvest year. Usually Rick Hansen focuses its Vaisakhi fundraising efforts on larger charitable organizations. But this year, students and staff also raised money for the local family in need.
"The students are impacted when something that big happens right close to home," de Wit said.
Fateh attended one of the high school's nearby feeder schools about a block away. On the day of the accident, Rick Hansen went into lockdown while the victims were airlifted to hospital.
Rapinder Rai, Fateh's teacher, said that when paramedics told the boy he'd be airlifted he responded that he needed to go to school.
"He's very resilient. He's a very strong boy," Rai said. "He's very gentle-mannered and he so desperately wanted to go back to school."
He's still using a wheelchair, but has returned to the classroom for half days.
"The other children … they really surprise me with their compassion and care," she said. "They take turns sitting next to him … playing with him outside at recess."
As for the family, Mullhi said even though there's so much hurt he appreciates the community trying to help.
"This is the first time, for my life, to see somebody die and for my kids to get in an accident," he said. "[We're] really grateful for the help."
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro