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http://www.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/news.nsf/Ne...72573B40073DC59

http://www.khalsaaid.org/

Khalsa Aid In Bangladesh. Date: 12/17/2007

Khalsa Aid launched a relief mission to assist the people of Bangladesh who were struck by a deadly cyclone in early November, The cyclone has devastated the southwest of the country killing nearly 5000 and leaving 100000s homeless.

Ravinder Singh of Khalsa Aid ( KA ) landed in Dhaka , Bangladesh on Monday 10th Dec 2007. He already had made contact with a local charity in Bangladesh and spent the first day establishing further contacts He also visited the historical Gurdwara Guru Nanak Shahi Sahib and met the local Sikhs. There is only a handful of Sikhs in the whole of Bangladesh. So most people were rather surprised to see a tall turbaned Sikh wondering around Dhaka.

The drive to the effected district of Barisal is apprx 7 hours from Dhaka which also includes a ferry crossing .Barisal is the only commercial city near the cyclone effected areas but its still another 3 hours away from the disaster zone It’s a very very difficult area for logistics and made worse by roads in terrible conditions. Mr Singh spent the night in Barisal and left at 7am next morning and reached the 3 villages of Podha in the disaster zone at 10am. The destruction was similar to that caused by a cyclone in Orissa, East India which KA had also visited and provided humanitarian aid.

These 3 villages had suffered 90% damage to property and many people killed .The local school has lost 30 children out of their total of 175..The school is totally destroyed, it could have been worse but the cyclone occurred when the school was shut .The main village is on the banks of the river Barisal which meets the Bay of Bangal not far from the village. The river carried the sea towards the village at a frightening speed and wiped out everything in its path. The lucky and healthy ones climbed trees , houses or fled , the not so lucky ones perished along with the animals.

Mr Singh spent most of the day assessing the situation and decided that Khalsa Aid will provide the unfortunate people of these villages with clean drinking water. Mr Singh arrived back to Dhaka and has ordered several large water tanks each with 1000Litre capacity these will be placed several places around these villages. A commercial water tanker will be commissioned by KA to refill these water tanks every 2 days with fresh drinking water .Further more KA will also assist in building permanent natural water filter plants in these villages.

Another KA volunteer Mandeep Singh will be arriving to Bangladesh to take over the relief work as Ravinder Singhs time is coming to an end and he has to go back to his “normalâ€job back in London soon.

Khalsa Aid has so far provided aid in Albania ( Kosovo War ), Orissa, East India ( cyclone ),Turkey (Earthquake ), Somalia, Congo ,Afghanistan ,West India, Gujarat (earthquake ),Pakistan (Earthquake ) Kashmir ( earthquake ), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Tsunami ) , South India (Tsunami ) Sri Lanka ( Tsunami ). None of the Khalsa Aid volunteers or members are paid for their work and rely entirely on the generosity of the Sangat for donations to carry out relief operations and to take the message of Bhai Ghaniyia Ji to the most unfortunate of our planet.

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This is a typical tribal response.

I worked for an Indian Charity after graduating for a while. The charity helped starving people in Bihar/Orissa, they built schools for orphans, widow ashrams, leper housing, hospitals etc. We found children living naked in the wild who could speak a language and ate ants (orphans).

The state of Punjab is well off in comparison, poverty liek that in East India, Bangledesh, Africa and South America does not exist in Punjab.

Uncle ji who has devoted his life to this nishkaam seva used to respond to numerous Gianis and Gurdwarai commitees who came wanted funds to be invested in Punjab with the following response:

"I have a strong pain in my foot, so why are you asking me to rub my head?"

Help should be given where it is needed most, without discrimination.

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Personally I always contribute to projects in Punjab and those involved in helping Sikhs rather than ones like this Khalsa Aid jaunt. Unfortunately the attitude of your uncle is one that a majority of Sikhs have. They are so blinded by their take on what Sarbat Da Bhalla is that they always forget that Sikhs are also included in Sarbat as well.

This attitude of your uncle is why most projects aimed at Sikhs are virtually at a standstill. You are right that most Sikhs aren't running around naked and eating ants but that's not to say that the Sikhs in Punjab aren't faced with many problems such as water pollution, desertification, deteoration of the education standards, suicides by farmers etc

I'm sure that many of the Sikh farmers who committed suicide in the last few years would be happy to know that their Sikh 'brothers' considered their plight to be less important than those of non-Sikhs.

On Khalsa Aid it was interesting to read their blog a few years ago when their rep was in Pakistan during Eid and he wrote that he was very weak because he was fasting! The thought that came to my mind that if he ate something in front of the people he was helping they would happily have lynched him without a second thought!

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While people in punjab might not be running around naked. We are infected with an epidemic of drug-addiction, prostitution, alocholism and youth giving up sikhi.

We should first improve the condition of our home and then look outside.

The biharis and orissans that your uncle ji is helping , are immigrating to punjab and making punjab even more poor.

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I am not saying Punjab does not need help, only that we shouldn't forsake the rest of the world.

Of course Sarbat da Bhalla is important. But sarbat da Bhalla can also increase if Sikhs help others.

Guru Sri Harkrishan Ji Maharaj gave the last days of his short and beautiful life to helping those infected by smallpox in Delhi, and Bhai Kanayai Ji's movement helped all people irrelevant. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji Maharaj gave his life for the freedom of worship in general, but specifically in answer to the Kashmiri Pandits call for help. This is the standard set by Guru Sahiban and the Khalsa, and one I choose to follow.

"The biharis and orissans that your uncle ji is helping , are immigrating to punjab and making punjab even more poor".

And how is that, by doing the menial work the "Sikhs" will no longer do?

It's a free world, people are free to try and travel where they like, same way 99% of Punjabi youth dream of travelling to UK/US/CA, poor Indians have dreams also, don't be so blind.

This is how many ethnic communities inc Sikhs did well in the west, by doing the jobs that the westerners didn't want to do.

I know for a fact that there are hard working Jats that still work on their own land (be them a handful) who are still making profits.

The increase in East Indians is also created by Jats who no longer want to work on their land and would rather pay poor East Indians a few rupees to work all hours that God sends, the problems are not as simple as are being made out above, many Jats get in debt for the reason of employing a large labour force also (although this isn't the only reason).

In any case each to their own, some people are patriotic to caste, religion culture, town, state, others are patriotic to humanity.

I don't feel there is a right ot wrong, it's good to help wherever the opportunity arises, be it in your own backyard, in Punjab or anywhere else in the world, help where ever your heart finds peace. That is the beauty of choice.

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Shaheediyan

I think you are twisting things. Don't ascribe the feelings that Sikhs have for helping fellow Sikhs as just based around caste, religion, town etc while defining yourself as patriotic to humanity. You now admit that Punjab has problems whilst according to your alturistic uncle there is nothing wrong in Punjab.

Did any of the Gurus forsake their own Sikhs whilst going out of their way to help non-Sikhs? Did Bhai Kanhaiya skip the injured Sikhs and help the injured Muslims instead?

No one is saying that every penny of Sikh donations needs to be spent on Sikhs but at the moment I would be surprised if any more than 1% of Sikh donations from the west goes to Sikh causes.

As for Khalsa Aid, in my personal view they just duplicate work that other aid agencies are already doing. I would much rather donate to the Red Cross or any number of established charities than donate to Khalsa Aid.

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w-bol wrote:

"We should first improve the condition of our home and then look outside.

The biharis and orissans that your uncle ji is helping , are immigrating to punjab and making punjab even more poor."

This mindset is also common amongst many in the UK working class for whom "immigrants", particularly would-be immigrants like you are "making the UK poor" - I'll leave you to figure out the rest for yourself, if you can't then ask and we can discuss this racist attitude yours at length here in the open.

tonyhp wrote:

"As for Khalsa Aid, in my personal view they just duplicate work that other aid agencies are already doing. I would much rather donate to the Red Cross or any number of established charities than donate to Khalsa Aid."

This is a valid statement. The Red Cross and other (secular) charities are more established and Khalsa Aid does seem to be duplicating efforts here, which makes me wonder to what extent are such "Sikh" charities (operating in non-Sikh causes) a reaction to say "Christian Aid"?

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I remember an online discussion I had with a representative of Khalsa Aid in 2001 when they had just been formed for about two years and his take on why they were concentrating on helping non-Sikhs was that they wanted to become a credible NGO and then they would be able to take part in projects in Punjab. He said that the Indian govt would stop them doing anything in Punjab if set up any projects there. That was about 8 years ago and to give them their due they and United Sikhs did do some work in Kashmir amongst Sikhs during the earthquake a couple of years ago they have yet to start major projects in Punjab.

Another reason that I would not personally support them is that they are not able to guarantee that donations that you make will reach the people you want them to reach. A case in point is that during the 2001 Nagar Kirtan they were collecting money using megaphones asking for donations for the Sikhs of Chattispura and when I asked a rep of theirs whether they could give me an assurance that the donation that they were asking in the name of the Sikhs of Chattispura would go solely to them, he could not give me that assurance. This is not to say that if they are doing an appeal for Bangladesh then the money will not reach them. Anyway I'm not sure that the Bangladesh thing is a good idea, the country will be underwater in a few years time anyway :)

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"Did Bhai Kanhaiya skip the injured Sikhs and help the injured Muslims instead?"

No they didn't, but this sums up my point perfectly, they didn't help all the Sikhs in the field first either. They helped who ever needed help!!

Which is all that I am saying.

Re established charities, fine, but a large % of donations goes to salaries and funding capital investments and their revenue maintenance etc.

What I like about Khalsa aid is that seva is nishkaam.

In addition, I don't see whay everytime Sikhs try to do something to boost the Khalsa image positively in the world, die hard paranoids always have to try and pour water on their efforts without having any inside knowlede of the sector or the organisation/people in question.

Duplicating efforts is a silly comment. Do you think that these "established" charities can help all the people affected, the answer is no.

These people don't necessarily work independently or inefficiently, their not as stupid as people like to make out. They go the disaster scene and examine the scenario and establish what help is already being supplied, what help there is the most need for, what help is realistic and affordable and which help which help will reach the needy and be the most beneficial.

It's easy to be armchair experts. Real charity work is the hardest thing to do in the world, one needs to be diplomatic, polite, have excellent leadership, negotiation and communicaiton skills, be streetwise, be sincere, be a good decision maker, be a realist and optimist at the same time, and be strong enough to bear firsthand witness to the horrors of the world.

All respect to those true Khalsa who give their time to help others indiscriminately, may Vaheguru bless them in their most sublime endeavours.

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Shaheediyan wrote:

"All respect to those true Khalsa who give their time to help others indiscriminately, may Vaheguru bless them in their most sublime endeavours"

I don't see where anyone is asking for "helping others" to be done on a discriminating basis, quite the opposite in fact.

TonyHP:

"Anyway I'm not sure that the Bangladesh thing is a good idea, the country will be underwater in a few years time anyway"

A little unnecessary don't you think.

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"I don't see where anyone is asking for "helping others" to be done on a discriminating basis, quite the opposite in fact."

"Personally I always contribute to projects in Punjab and those involved in helping Sikhs rather than ones like this Khalsa Aid jaunt."

Yes a personal opinion, but an impressionable one, hence my subtle comment.

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Shaheediyan,

I note your selective use of the above quote, however I would argue that the following from the same author places in within the wider context:

"No one is saying that every penny of Sikh donations needs to be spent on Sikhs but at the moment I would be surprised if any more than 1% of Sikh donations from the west goes to Sikh causes."

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Tony should be proud. His bani is being quoted left and right! LOL

On a serious note I personally feel its a good thing to have such an organization so that more people are aware who the bearded and turbaned people are. Doing so while helping others is just bonus points. Sure money may be spent on non-sikhs, yet at the same if it is given to a so-called "Sikh cause" then there will be arguments that it was only given to 'jatt-sikhs' or 'non-jatt sikhs' or they are 'fake sikhs' LOL... and don't be surprised to hear these 5-year kind of thinking coming from 40 something jathedars!

Bottom line is everyone knows giving charity via an organization doesnt reach the needy directly, by the time it gets there they'd be lucky to get a significant portion of it. Bill Gates is donating trillians yet people don't have clothes in Africa, how can that happen? :D It's a risk donating to organizations but then again if you do it out of 'sharda' and the donation doesn't cause you financial pain, then by all means do it.

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"Sure money may be spent on non-sikhs, yet at the same if it is given to a so-called "Sikh cause" then there will be arguments that it was only given to 'jatt-sikhs' or 'non-jatt sikhs' or they are 'fake sikhs' LOL... and don't be surprised to hear these 5-year kind of thinking coming from 40 something jathedars!"

Classic!!!

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Baba Puran Singh Ji helped whoever needed help, not giving priority to Sikhs.

Most of his patients were actually low caste and gareeb, those shunned and spat on by Punjabi society - namely the residents of amritsar and keepers of Harmandhir Sahib Ji (not much has changed today).

May God give us more truely nishkaam sevadaars like Baba Ji who truely follwed in footsteps of Sevapanthi Bhai Kanayai Ji.

The charrava that goes to Darbar Sahib can be considered dasvandh, I don't see it going to help those in need, do you?

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Shaheediyan,

With due respect, you are now highlighting political issues with the Darbar Sahib, I believe the biography of Bhagat Puran Singh (H K Sekhon) highlights the issues Bhagat Jee had with the SGPC in full and why he chose to be separate from its affiliations.

Bhagat Jee did indeed establish a perfect example of nishkam seva, it is a shame however that Sikhs haven't developed his truly inspiring efforts when we compare us to say "heretical" sects such as the Radhosoamis and others who have managed to set up state of the art hospitals and so forth.

Pingalwaras are indeed the ideal we need to work with, the current Bibi Jee who heads up the service is a remarkable lady and it is pleasing to know she is working hard to forward Bhagat Jee's hardwork, just a shame that she has so many hurdles to jump through to keep the ball rolling.

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Why not donate to a Sikh charity, that way others can be helped and your donation will contribute to raising the positive profile of the panth. Two birds with one stone.

Pingalwara, as mentioned above, helps everyone. Also, looking at how they operate, they have far less overhead costs than many large charities. Just think how much administrative costs (some charity heads are paid similarly to CEOs of corporations) and advertising costs reduce the amount of your donation to the needy.

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