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Brampton Guardian covering UNITED SIKHS
January 29 , 2010


Five local residents are currently in the devastated Caribbean country preparing hot meals for over 5,000 Haitians.

With an organization called the United Sikhs – an affiliation with the United Kingdom – Sarvinder Pandher is among those five residents, and many others, who have joined the humanitarian effort to restore Haiti after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the country on Jan. 12.

Pandher, 47, could not be reached for contact due to service complications in Haiti but his daughter Ramandeep Kaur has been in brief contact with him since he left for the capital city Port-au-Prince on Jan. 22.  She said her dad had to go through a mountain of trouble just to get in contact with her back in Canada.  Up a mountain, actually, according to Kaur …way up.  
“He had to call from a thousand foot mountain to get service,” said the fourth-year University of Toronto Science and Criminology student.  “I’ve only been in contact with him twice since he left.” 

It is through these conversations with his daughter that Pandher’s experiences in Haiti are told. Born and raised in Brampton herself, Kaur said she wants to give an idea about what her dad and other residents of Brampton are doing to help.

”It will further shine the limelight on the city of Brampton for having such brave and caring residents willing to take time away from their families and work to assist those in need.”
The anguish and damage in Haiti are such that one must see to fully grasp, said Pandher to Kaur. 

 “He told me just seeing people lying on the side of the road and all the destruction could not be described in pictures.”

Buying food and supplies from bordering Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, half of the United Sikh volunteers travel to Haiti – a 200-kilometer road-trip that could take as long as 12 hours because of border security – to other volunteers who prepare the meals.

Established in New York in 1999, the United Sikhs began as a social and economic development group for immigrants to communities in Queens.  Today, the United Sikhs is an international not-for-profit organization with goals of improving human rights and assisting in humanitarian efforts around the world.  Director of the United Sikhs organization in Toronto, Baljit Singh, said the organization wishes to offer assistance to people in need all around the world.

“We want to help people, and Haiti needs people to help them right now,” He said.
Singh noted the United Sikhs also sent two doctors, along with $200, 000 worth of medical supplies to Haiti.

Money for such causes is raised through fundraisers by the organization, he added.
Kaur, who also works with the United Sikhs, said although so named, the organization is not focused on just people of the Sikhism faith.
“I know the organization is based around the Sikh religion, but this (effort) is not targeted toward any specific religion or culture.  We are asking anyone who wants to help in Haiti to call.” More volunteers will be leaving for Haiti shortly.

At home, Ramandeep, 23, his wife Jaspal and his son Gagandeep, 25, support Pandher in Haiti.  Kaur said she respects the sacrifices her father is making to be there for others in need.
“I’m really proud of him for being there.  He stepped up to the plate.  You know, he’s the soul breadwinner in our home and he’s taking time off of work to do this and help people.”
The other four Brampton residents in Haiti are Harcharan Singh, 39; Amritpal Singh, 37; Paramjeet Singh, 45; Kulwant Singh, 44.

The United Sikhs has previously done humanitarian work in Sri Lanka, New Orleans, and Myanmar.  For more information on the organization visit or call (905) 672-2245.

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