February 17 2010
6th Phalgun (Samvat 541 Nanakshahi)
Press Release

UNITED SIKHS Rehabilitation Team Asked to Help Plan New Hospital as Langar (Community Kitchen) Continues in Two Locations in Haiti

Port-au-Prince:  The first UNITED SIKHS' medical team of 6 doctors including two family practice physicians, a rehabilitation/pain management physician, a neurologist, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist returned after helping survivors with acute medical issues and physical rehabilitation.   The medical team took approximately $45,000 worth of medical equipment with them, including therapy equipment, medicines, and wound care supplies. UNITED SIKHS rehabilitation team has been asked to come back and be a part of the planning and building of a new 250 bed rehabilitation hospital which will be built in Port-au-Prince.  Dr. Sagina Kaur commented, “It’s not enough for us to come there and help once, we need to leave behind something sustainable so that the people of Haiti will continue to heal. That will be the focus of our next effort.”

Dr. Baljinder Singh with Patient in Port-au-Prince.    
Dr Ayesha Hussain and Dr. Gurbans Kaur treating patient

Many patients that the medical team encountered in Haiti had never received any care beyond what was available immediately after the earthquake. The UNITED SIKHS medical team quickly setup wound care and rehabilitation services.  “It was wonderful to see the excitement on the faces of the patients when they took their first steps in nearly a month” said Gurbans Kaur, a physical therapist from Chicago, Illinois. 

The doctors and health professionals were able to exclusively provide to the hospital a neurology service, along with rehabilitation and pain management services.  The team also took charge of the adult ward at night by managing about 150 adult patients, giving other physicians a chance to sleep and get some much needed rest.  “It was a tremendously humbling experience,” said Baljinder Singh, a rehabilitation physician from Chicago.
Dr Ayesha Hussain and Dr Shaila Singh          
Dr. Sagina Kaur feeding medication to a survivor child

The group teamed up with “Health Empowering Humanity”, a NGO that facilitates access to healthcare.  The living conditions in Haiti make patients extremely susceptible to illness and disease.  “It was astonishing to see the children that parents were bringing to us. They were so severely dehydrated that in many cases we had to scrutinize whether they are alive or not,” said Sagina Kaur, a family practice physician from Chicago and Medical Director for UNITED SIKHS.

UNITED SIKHS Medical team
Dr. Martha Chinna, Dr. Sagina Kaur, Dr. Saila Singh

There was a voluntary staff of about 200 people who came to help.  There were no egos present.  Whether you were a transporter or a surgeon, everyone felt equally important to just serve the cause.  The experience has not always been easy, particularly in light of the glaring lack of facilities. “At times, it could be very frustrating” added Martha Chinna, a Neurologist from Florida.  “We are used to having advanced medical diagnostics such as CT scans, and at least basic blood labs.  Here we operate only through our own clinical judgment.”

The team also established a relationship with the University of Miami field hospital/ “Medishare” project, essentially a “make-shift” hospital that provides an emergency department, four surgical suites, an intensive care unit, a pediatric ward, and an adult ward.

For many, the experience of serving those in need in Haiti has brought the teachings of Sikhism to life.

“I realized how important the teaching of Guru Nanak to feed the hungry is. I’m happy I came and helped those in need with hot-meals” said Karnail Singh, Sr. V.P. Guru Nanak Gurudwara Surrey, BC, Canada. "The work we are doing brings the teaching of Guru Nanak sahib ji into direct and substantive action. I request that not just the Sikh community, but people of all backgrounds support this organization as best as they can," added Vicky Dhillon, City Counselor Brampton, Ontario.

Coming home was bitter sweet for the team.  “We feel like we could have had an even greater impact if we had planned for more time,” said Ayesha Hussain, a family practice physician in Toronto. 

Dr. Baljinder Singh added, “Our job as a medical community is now to focus on how we will make the disabled and injured of Haiti functional and contributing members of society; else we will see a second wave of problems for Haiti which will be more detrimental than the actual earthquake”.

Sukhwinder Singh of Surrey, BC who has been helping out at the University of Miami hospital said, "It has been a real eye-opener. Medical school can never fully prepare you for a scenario like this. The overwhelming number of patients and the slow progress due to limited doctors and nurses is heartbreaking. Everyone is trying their best and the medical teams are giving it all they have and getting very limited rest."

“What I didn’t expect is how emotionally difficult it was for us to leave our patients.  Many started to cry when we told them we were leaving” said Gurbans Kaur.   Shaila Singh, an occupational therapist from Rochester, New York, added, “Therapy services are immediately and desperately needed for the people of Haiti.”
Karnail Singh distributing food
Sukhwinder Singh cooking Langgar

Sikhs youths from Guru Nanak Gurdwara Surrey, BC, Canada joined the UNITED SIKHS base camp in Port-au-Prince to serve hot-meals. The team brought gifts and toys, along with school supplies and other materials to help the survivors. The team is cooking and distributing food to affected people every day.

Your donation of any amount will help save lives by providing food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support to people in need.

For a initial impressions of the medical team arriving in Haiti, please visit:


Click for video

Issued by:
Harpreet Kaur
Email: sikhaid@unitedsikhs.org
Ph: 1-905-672-2245 (Canada)
1-888-243-1690 (USA)
+44 8701993328 (UK) 

You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the UNITED SIKHS, which will provide immediate relief and support to those in need. Call 1-905-672-2245 or 1-888-243-1690 for more information. Contribute to UNITED SIKHS through local chapter in your country http://unitedsikhs.org/contact.php . Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting http://unitedsikhs.org/donate.php . If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.

“I realized how important the teaching of Guru Nanak Sahib to feed the hungry is. I’m happy I came and helped those in need with hot-meals” said Karnail Singh, Sr. V.P. Guru Nanak Gurdwara Surrey, BC, Canada“

"The work we are doing brings the teaching of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji into direct and substantive action. I request that not just the Sikh community, but people of all backgrounds support this organization as best as they can" added Vicky Dhillon, City Counselor Brampton, Ontario.

Click for video

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To Contact UNITED SIKHS, please visit: www.unitedsikhs.org/contact.php


To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.

UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.

UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.

Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.

We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.