Following Amrit Paul’s passing, community rallies to raise money for his family, college refunds winter tuition
When Amrit Paul last spoke to his parents, they said he sounded happy.
Paul, who was an international student at George Brown College (GBC), typically called his family twice a day, and this time, he was calling them to discuss travel visas and plans for his upcoming convocation.
Around an hour later, Paul died of an apparent heart attack at 25 years-old.
“Right now it’s really hard to believe all of this happened to our child, but we are trying to live within the grace of almighty,” said Paul’s parents Didar Singh and Harbans Kaurwere through Facebook.
When word travelled of Paul’s passing, the news also hit the GBC community hard.
Amrit Aggarwal, Paul’s roommate and classmate in the wireless technology program, said that Paul’s death was like losing a family member.
“Every minute, we’re spending together,” he said. “A roommate is like a brother to me, we became so close.”
Paul’s sister, Preetinder Kaur, was accepted at Lambton College and was planning on moving from India to live with her brother. With his death, Kaur said she’s dropped her dream of coming to Ontario to study.
“I am the only one to take care of my parents in this hard time,” she said over Facebook. “I can’t leave them alone in this tough situation.”
Paul was originally from India and had completed a post-graduate certificate in wireless networking last December. He was just weeks away from finishing a bridging program at college.
On top of the loss of their son, Paul’s parents were facing a significant cost—$10,743—to have his body transported home to India. And the GBC community responded to help.
Jaskaran Singh Pawar received a call about Paul, just a day removed from his death. An international student studying computer system technology, Pawar then met with the Student Association (SA) and the college to see what could be done for the family.
He never met Paul, but he said he recognized a communication gap around the services provided by the college and SA, which funds The Dialog, and he was compelled to help.
“It could happen to any one of us,” he said. “And if I come forward now, maybe there will be someone who will come forward for me too, if it ever happens.”
Pawar, along with members of his club Helping Each Other, helped Paul’s representative Tejeshwar Janjua through the process of accessing a benefit of the SA’s health plan that provides $10,000 for deceased international students to be transported back home.
Janjua had set up a Go Fund Me page on March 18, to raise money to cover the costs, before the fees for the funeral and transportation were largely taken care of. The page exceeded its $15,000 goal, raising $20,710 in four days, money which is now going Paul’s family.
GBC also helped by refunding Paul’s tuition fee for the winter semester.
Speaking at a memorial for Paul at Casa Loma campus, Kushagra Manchanda, the SA’s director of operations, said he was touched with how fellow international students rallied to help Paul’s family.
“Being an international student, it was great to see how all of us stuck together when Amrit left us,” he said.
Manchanda met Paul as he was campaigning for the director of operations position, and said that Paul was gracious and excited to be involved in the democratic process.
While the expenses are taken care of, Paul’s untimely death has left a wake of disbelief in the GBC community.
“I came back to home and I felt like he will come now, he will come from his room,” Aggarwal said.
He added that Paul was an ambitious person that would go above and beyond to care for his friends.