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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-02-11-2007-00.htm

Press Release: 2nd Nov, 2007, 19th Kattak (Samvat 539 Nanakshahi )

Press Release

SWAN Reaches Malawi

Blantyre, Malawi, SE Africa - Imagine sipping on green tea and checking your last unread e-mail before heading to bed at 2a.m. - and it is from one Davie Kasinja, a young African man in Malawi asking for help to pay his exam fees. Our Director, who received this email, was not too tired to be skeptical nor did she have the will to delete the email. But could this be a prank? Who would write to UNITED SIKHS from Malawi? She wrote her last e-mail reply for the night simply saying: “You haven’t given us enough information, please let us know how you qualify for help.”

The Sikh community, even though small in numbers worldwide, is doing a sterling job of charitable work all over the world.

Dr. Mahomed Abdul Rehman Mukadam

Next morning, Davie Kasinja’s email reply had a list of his credentials, certificates, and the story of how his father’s passing had left him in a state of despair. Davie said that he was at the brink of not being able to sit for the exams in December to complete his Accounting Technician Diploma ACCA. He couldn’t come up with the $612 needed to pay his tuition fees and register by the Sept 30th deadline.

At this point, UNITED SIKHS was faced with two issues. First off, there was no ongoing project under which Kasinja could be helped. There was a project named Sikh With A Need (SWAN), which hitherto was aimed to provide emergency funds and logistics to Sikhs in crisis. Davie Kasinja was a Christian. Secondly, like with any other claim, this one had to be investigated, and how do we investigate a claim in far-away Malawi, before the deadline date.

Davie Kasinja with the Malawi Sikh sangat at the Gurdwara

We decided that the first one was not so much an issue, since Sikhs have always been a giving community. It would be as good a time as any to broaden the project to call it ‘Someone With a Need’ (SWAN). As for the investigative work, UNITED SIKHS dug into its international network and contacted a supporter in the UK, Harjit Singh Dhanoa, who had himself migrated from Malawi 30 years ago. An email that same day to Harjit Singh received a promptly reply overnight: “I have asked my friend in Blantyre, Dr Mac, (a medical doctor, Dr. Mahomed Abdul Rehman Mukadam) to meet with Davie to verify his claim.

Within 48 hours, Dr. Mac met Davie, checked his documents and his college and was able to confirm to UNITED SIKHS that Davie was indeed in need, the college was credible and that he would be a worthy candidate for our SWAN program. Davie is one of five children of a family who are living on the meager earnings of their mother. He had no means of finding local support in a country that faced its worst food shortage last year, with more than 4 million people, 34% of the population, without adequate food supplies.

“My mission has always been focused on schooling mainly to fly high on the academic horizon so that I can support myself and the entire family”, Davie said in support of his appeal. This flight was about to be grounded with the death of his father.

Malawi Sikh Association president, Tarlochan Singh, with Davie Kasinja and the college principal

His mother runs a business of selling pancakes in his local village to support herself and her two daughters who stay with her. Her income is equivalent to $2 a day, and is barely enough to sustain them. Davie’s dream is to become a Chartered Accountant. The thought of this dream being shattered is what persuaded him to try and find someone to help him.

It was agreed that UNITED SIKHS would pay $612.00 towards Davie’s fees via our representative, Dr. Mac, directly to the college. Mr. Harjit Singh Dhanoa volunteered to donate the money necessary for the tuition. And it was decided that the presentation of the check would be made, on behalf of UNITED SIKHS, at the local Gurdwara ( Sikh place of worship) in Malawi, by the President of the Sikh Association, Tarlochan Singh, and Dr. Mac.

Davie Kasinja and 3 representatives from the Malawi College of Accountancy, led by Mr. Machila, arrived at the Gurudwara at 1 pm and were served langar (a community meal). Davie informed the Sangat (Sikh congregation) how, in his desperation, he was scouring the internet and came across UNITED SIKHS and the SWAN Project. He expressed his gratitude to the Sikh community in Malawi and UNITED SIKHS for helping him to pursue his career.

Dr Mac handing the cheque to the college principal with Davie Kasinja looking on

Dr. Mac explained how Mr. Harjit Singh Dhanoa involved him in the project: “The Sikh community, even though small in numbers worldwide, is doing a sterling job of charitable work all over the world”. He cited a popular Langar on the Nairobi/Mombasa highway, where anyone, regardless of caste, color, religion or creed, can stop to have a meal, water, or simply to freshen up.

“Davie was a suitable beneficiary for the SWAN project, which according to the Sikh principle of Sarbat da Bhala (service for the benefit of all), is now open to non-Sikhs, after we renamed the project – Someone With a Need (SWAN),”said Gurmeet Kaur, a UNITED SIKHS director who initiated the SWAN project two years ago, when she organized an appeal for another beneficiary, Partap Singh of Peru. Read about it at http://unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/COMVCE-09-12-2005-02.htm

“UNITED SIKHS is only able to run the SWAN projects if there are ready donors and we are able to verify the applicant’s claims to establish if he/she is in urgent need and have tried all other means and failed,” Gurmeet Kaur added.
Davie wrote to UNITED SIKHS, “Words are failing me to put into writing how much I am thankful for your support to finish my schooling. It was nice to be amongst Sikhs during the cheque presentation ceremony at the Gurdwara. They are a wonderful people, so caring and lovely”. He recently contacted UNITED SIKHS to inform us that he is busy studying for the exams that he will be sitting for in December, thanks to our help. He wrote that he is forever grateful for our support and will continue to stay in touch.

You may read a press release on a previous SWAN project at http://unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/COMVCE-28-10-2006-00.htm

Issued by:
Rivya Kaur
SWAN Project Coordinator

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