Saturday, March 19, 2011


I first saw Randeep on TV, when I was a juvenile in high school- at the 2000 Olympic Trials in Toronto, fighting his way into the finals of Greco roman. I hate to say it, but he looked like a nice guy. (I’d find out later how true this really was). And of course, needless to say, he had a fighting spirit.

In 2004 I had the opportunity to go to the Tropheo Milone tournament in Italy with a decent sized Canadian contingent; there happened to be some kind of funny flight issues, and we stayed back in Rome 3 days, our expenses paid. We all visited the Vatican, and it led to a late night conversation with Randeep & a couple others; we all felt a healthy scepticism of aggrandized religion, and Randeep unknowingly challenged us by meekly sharing about how he and a couple of buddies set up a table one day a week to hand out food to whoever needs it. I was moved & challenged by his quiet thought & care for others.

Some years passed, and I bumped into him now & then at tournaments, retiring to a coaching role in 2007 and he did as well. As he caoched & led Hargobind this past year, I took part in a sports administration Internship situated at the Uganda Olympic Committee, in Kampala, Uganda (East Africa). I’d met some cool people, and towards the end of my time ran into an old lady on the sidewalk, without family & with a broken leg. We took her to the doctor, and she needed $600 worth of surgery (her leg was severely broken and she’d been down for over 3 weeks!). So a Facebook post & fundraiser went up, and Randeep responded kind of out-of-the-blue, amidst smaller but sincere pledges. I won’t say what he offered, because Randeep didn’t ever like me talking about it- ha ha- but when we found out that Jja Jja (Grandma)’s leg could be healed in a cast, he asked if there was any other causes he could help. “Well, honestly, I have to tell you about this young guy I met...”

Patrick, a teen dressed in a t-shirt, was who showed up to my office when I called an orphanage and asked for their director to meet & connect about a possible sports program. As the 19 year old founder of the orphanage told me his story as a 'volunteer', I sat in awe. At age 13, he became an orphan on the street, caring for his 11 year old sister. Living in the slums and eating what scraps he could, he stayed faithful. One day he was found by a lady touring the capital, and she was captivated with his genuine optimism despite his situation. Through her, he was provided living & school- which he was travelling to one day a few years later when he stumbled upon a 2 year old who’d be thrown away. Meeting her needs & taking her in, he’d find himself doing the same for a boy in a ditch, in the rain- saving his life from pneumonia, and taking him in- as his parents had also died. At age 17 he’d gathered 8 others into the small apartment, and liberated them from life on the street- but got an eviction notice; not losing faith he shared his situation via email, to those he knew. (His email sent from an Internet cafe met an American woman whose sister had very recently passed away, and left $30,000 to a ‘good cause’- a cause for which Patrick was found to be suited). With the money he saw the purchase of a home on the city’s outskirts, with several rooms to which he added many 3 story bunk beds. Patrick’s frequent trips back to the ghettos of Kampala would see him build relationships and reach out in love (and in sport, hygiene assistance- whatever he could bring to them) and by the time I met him, had filled his house with 43 former street children. They are inspiring little people too!

Randeep was moved by what Patrick was doing, and wanting to be a part asked how we could help. I asked Patrick, as we’d already discussed the possibility of a chicken farm, and he came back with the estimated costs. Randeep was as zealous to get started as Patrick (or more! no slight to Patrick), who had no stable income for the children, being a full-time “uncle” and teacher to the children. Understanding that they sometimes struggled for food (such as this (current) past week for 2 days, for example) it was Randeep’s mission for the farm to happen; he committed not only to the full cost, but made sure my flight change was taken care of so I could stay to see it through, which he felt was the wisest move time-wise (which it indeed turned out to be, contrary to my initial estimates, and despite the cost to him).
The construction & all the details are on my blog (below), and Randeep was especially patient to see the final stages finished as sadly our contractor had some issues, including the tragic loss of his father. But construction progressed from Canada as I came home on Christmas. Randeep told me it was being built in honor of his mother, whom I never had the honor of knowing, save through the impact of love she’d left on Randeep’s heart. With the help of some of Randeep’s community- his caring family, and friends like Nazir, the farm was completed this February 27th, thanks fully to the support that Randeep garnered. He really came through, and the idea that will soon facilitate a food/income generating project for these sweet children would not exist without the love Randeep embodied to bring it into being.

When Greg Edgelow called me with the news of Randeeps’ passing, I found it hard to understand because I didn’t realize how tough he had had it- nor do I think many of us did. I think maybe Randeep did, and he didn’t let others know- perhaps this inspired his enthusiasm in life, a quiet bravery- or perhaps he didn’t know and his heart was proved gold through his consistently generous character.

...I’m thinking about what Randeep might want to have seen, after he departed, apart from happiness for those around him, fearless pursuits from those he coached, and peace for his family and friends.
If you would like to contribute to his honour, I would be happy to consider putting funds towards a school project for the orphanage, to be built & named in honor of him. This would begin to establish a school for the home, which we hoped to find a way to build next. I would love to see the giving spirit that Randeep embodied live on through his community to those who struggle to go to school. Whether that happens or not, Randeep showed me by his actions, as little as I knew him from the National team, how faith should come forth in loving action; uniting people & transcending boundaries to achieve real-life victories that will make ripples on, and on- the end of which is immeasurable.
“Get together, my brethren, and remove all misunderstandings through regard for each other.”
Jamie Macari, friend, teammate on National team, and honoured acquaintance of Randeep Sodhi.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to care for the fatherless children and widows in their time of trouble, and to keep one's own self unspotted from the world.” James 1:27
"You don't have a soul. You are a soul." C.S. Lewis

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