UNITED SIKHS
April 20 2010
7th Vaisakh (Samvat 542 Nanakshahi)
Press Release

UNITED SIKHS Feeds Heathrow Passengers Stranded By Icelandic Ash Cloud

“When we got to the arrivals hall yesterday we saw a sad scene. The stranded passengers we met were form Australia, Vietnam and USA. They had run out of money and food at the airport was expensive. They had no choice but to sleep on the floor or remain sitting on the hard chairs. Some of the passengers were in transit on long haul flights and many were stranded for four days. They were bored and exhausted. They were all very pleased to be offered free hot meals by us,” said Baljinder Kaur, one of the UNITED SIKHS volunteers.

London, UK –Volunteers from an international UN affiliated, humanitarian relief organization, UNITED SIKHS, responded to an SOS call for hot meals from Heathrow airport and fed stranded hungry travellers on Monday and will continue doing so until the air traffic crisis ends.

At 7am on Monday morning, Harbans Kaur, UNITED SIKHS community Service director, received a call from an employee at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, who said that there is a lounge-full of people in the arrivals hall who haven’t eaten a hot meal for days. These were passengers stranded since the flight ban caused by Iceland’s ash cloud five days ago.
 
Stranded Heathrow passengers having their hot meals   UNITED SIKHS volunteers serving hot meals to stranded passengers at heathrow airport

Immediately, a team of eight UNITED SIKHS volunteers put a plan into action and prepared lentil curry and rice. Volunteers Gurmit Singh, Narpinder Kaur and their friends purchased water bottles, fruit, chocolates, and tea, and set off to Terminal 3 to serve the people and assess the situation. This team was responding to a need as they do for the hungry under an ongoing UNITED SIKHS project called Feed the Hungry. You may read about this project at http://unitedsikhs.org/feedthehungry/

“When we got to the arrivals hall yesterday we saw a sad scene. The stranded passengers we met were form Australia, Vietnam and USA. They had run out of money and food at the airport was expensive. They had no choice but to sleep on the floor or remain sitting on the hard chairs. Some of the passengers were in transit on long haul flights and many were stranded for four days. They were bored and exhausted. They were all very pleased to be offered free hot meals by us,” said Baljinder Kaur, one of the UNITED SIKHS volunteers.
UNITED SIKHS volunteers with the passengers they fed and a helpful policeman

The ash cloud spewing out of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano has affected air traffic in Europe in a way unprecedented in living memory, grounding planes, and leaving thousands stranded. As a global hub airport, Heathrow has come to a halt, becoming the temporary home of hundreds of passengers. They wait for resumption of normal flights, and become ever more hungry and tired in the process. They speak of hotel rates escalating overnight, forcing them to ‘sleep rough’ at airports.

“I was stranded and hungry, without much money, at Frankfurt airport two days ago due to the traffic crisis caused by the ash cloud. I knew how it felt when we got the SOS from Terminal 3. It mattered not that the stranded travelers at Heathrow could have bought cold sandwiches which were available at high prices in an outlet. We needed to provide solace through hot food. ” said Jaswinder Kaur.

“I just had another call from the Information desk at Heathrow’s Terminal 3. I was asked if we were going to feed the hungry stranded travellers again today.  The feedback from the passengers was that they were very grateful.  We said we would be there by midday today with hot food,” Harbans Kaur said whilst preparing and packing today’s hot meals comprising kidney beans, rice, sandwiches, fresh fruit and drinks. 

 “As we began serving the food yesterday, a big queue formed of smiling passengers who came for seconds as well. One even asked for the recipe. A lot of them wanted to know who we were. They said they had not encountered anything of this nature before,” said Atinder Singh, another UNITED SIKHS volunteer.

“The spirit of selfless service spread, as one passenger immediately offered to help serve the food, and grateful airport staff assisted us in making hot drinks. A duty policeman said how happy he was to see the stranded being fed. Stranded passengers asked if we would return,” added Darshan Kaur, one of the eight volunteers who had mounted this ‘Feed the Hungry’ event at the airport.

You may read about our latest humanitarian relief projects at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/haitiearthquake

If you know of anyone who is hungry, let us know. We will endeavour to feed them, if it is within our reach. Email us at feedthehungry-uk@unitedsikhs.org  

Issued by:
Danielle J. De Feo
Community Service Communications Coordinator
UNITED SIKHS
Feedthehungry-london@unitedsikhs.org
08701993328

 
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UNITED SIKHS encourages the Sikh community to wear their kakaars, fearlessly exercise their freedom of religion, and to contact us with any problems, concerns, or incidents of discrimination.

OUR MISSION

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.