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Thursday, 16th March 2006
3rd Chayat (Samvat 538 Nanakshahi)
In December 2005 a combined effort was made by the Sikh youth across London to send 400 school bags to Asian Quake affected areas of Pakistan so that they could be distributed to school children who had escaped death as they fled school buildings which collapsed and killed many of their classmates.
The school bags arrived in Pakistan early January but Harsharen Kaur, a UNITED SIKHS volunteer from London, was unable to distribute the bags because of bad weather that hit Bagh which made Bagh inaccessible and isolated, with no way in or out.
UNITED SIKHS volunteer, Ramesh Singh, has accomplished the mission which was started in London when he distributed the School bags to Bagh, Azad Kashmir as soon as the weather cleared. The weather did not let up, it turned again when Ramesh Singh was due to leave Bagh after the distribution. His helicopter journey had to be cancelled and he returned to Islamabad by road which took 8 difficult hours. “The weather became really severe and the roads were extremely dangerous, but we managed to return safely by the grace of God”, Ramesh Singh said.
The Government Boys middle school in Mangbhajri, Bagh, was almost completely destroyed. This school has been provided with winterised tents by an NGO called GOAL, in which the students are currently being taught. Many children lost their school bags, books and stationery when their schools collapsed. The largest number of fatalities in the earthquake were children who died in schools.
Ramesh Singh and two other UNITED SIKHS volunteers Mr. Assam-ud-din and Mr. Basharat Ali distributed school bags, stationary kits, hats/gloves/socks parcels to the school children at Mangbajhri. They also distributed shawls to all the female students and some clothes to other students.
Mangbhajri school children with their new school bags & stationary
“The children were very happy to receive their much needed new bags” said Ramesh. “Hopefully these will assist and encourage them to continue their education.”
Like the majority of children, young Salma (above) was at school when the earthquake struck. “The school was shaking and we were sitting at our desks. Everything started to collapse. My best friend was sitting at the desk in front of me. I saw the building fall down on top of her and crush her to death. Some rubble fell on me too and I was stuck under it. Somehow I managed to escape before the rest of the school collapsed”. Salma and many other children and adults now refuse to sleep in their homes, in bricked or concrete buildings and are sleeping in tents despite the severe weather.
The UNITED SIKHS team also distributed school bags and stationery kits to children in the Evergreen Model school chatter no.2. This school had partially collapsed and the building is now unsafe. They too are teaching in tents and many of these children just ran when the earthquake came so there bags were lost or destroyed.
Ramesh distributes Bags in Bagh at the Evergreen Model school chatter no.2
Ramesh putting hats & gloves on children
UNITED SIKHS also distributed hats/gloves/socks parcels to children in Chatter No.2 Tent village. The majority of the survivors in this tent village live in non-winterised tents through snow and rain therefore keeping warm and dry is a priority.
UNITED SIKHS volunteer helps distribute school bags
Warm clothes were also distributed to children in the Muslim Hands tent village, Bagh as NGO’s help each other to provide aid to the quake survivors. Similarly, United Nations HIC Officer Murtaza Wali also assisted UNITED SIKHS with relief distribution.
Various items of stationery, books, school bags, warm clothes, hats, gloves & scarves were also distributed to HOPE 87’s shelter home village, Ammer Begum Welfare Trust (ABWT), Govt. High School - Narr Sher Ali Khan, Govt. Girls Primary School, Read Foundation - BaniPasseri, and Govt. Boys Middle School - Chotay Panyali Wasti BAG.
To read a previous Press Release on the Asian Quake Relief project please see
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