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Five More Hours to Make your 2015 Tax Deductable Donation

US

Dear Supporter,

What better way to express gratitude for the blessings you received in 2015 then to pay them forward? There’s still time to make your year-end contribution! Every dollar has the power to change a life. Your support is crucial to help us continue and expand on our humanitarian aid, advocacy, and community empowerment efforts in the new year. Before the clock strikes midnight, join us in our efforts to give others something to be grateful for too.

Donate

Read more about our efforts this year here.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS events by following our social media accounts: Facebook | Twitter

Wishing you and your loved ones a Very Happy New Year!

Gurvinderji

 

 

Director, UNITED SIKHS

E: contact@unitedsikhs.org

Ensure Justice Prevails

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

As a first step to achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s “justice everywhere,” this year, UNITED SIKHS launched a global Know Your Religious Rights online facility, through which we have received inquiries and requests for help, which our global legal team has responded to. This facility was set up to assist people who live and travel globally. the online reporting facility may be accessed at the tab below.

Just over a year ago, 19 year-old Hofstra University student Iknoor Singh sat among his fellow UNITED SIKHS Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy students in Washington, DC. His hands shook, and his eyes filled with emotion as he told the room about his life-long dream to serve his country in the U.S. army. Our team will never forget the way his words carried a genuine and selfless passion to protect the safety of others. It was Iknoor’s passion and determination that inspired us while fighting his case against the U.S. Army after he was barred from participating in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) training because of his articles of faith–an arduous but worthwhile journey: Today, Iknoor is enrolled in ROTC training, after standing up for his right to maintain his Sikh turban, unshorn hair, and beard while doing so.

This year, we celebrated many such strides towards a society that is accepting of people of all races and religions. Join us as we take a look back at some of our International Civil and Human Rights victories this year.

Sarabjit Kaur won a $75,000 settlement in her religious discrimination case

In January, Sarabjit Kaur won a $75,000 settlement in her religious discrimination case against her previous employer, Inter-Con Security Systems, Inc. Kaur faced repeated harassment and humiliation at the hands of her superiors because of her religious head covering, and was asked to remove it. She had just started wearing a Sikh head covering to work when she started facing all kinds of harassment and humiliation at the hands of her superiors, and was asked to remove it. UNITED SIKHS’ attorneys co-counseled with attorneys at Bryan Schwartz Law, a California firm, for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s conciliation process and to securing this settlement.

Left: Iknoor Singh at the Academy in 2014. Right: Iknoor participating in training earlier this year.

UNITED SIKHS teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to fight for Iknoor Singh’s right to enroll in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) training while maintaining his Sikh beard and turban.This July, we were victorious in the two year battle.

Manjinder Singh, 34, of Coventry. UK

In August, Manjinder Singh, 34, an Amritdhari Sikh from Coventry in the UK wrote to UNITED SIKHS through our Know Your Religious Freedom Rights online, because of a lack of clarity in Halfords’ policy in respect of wearing the Kirpan. Halfords is UK’s leading retailer of leisure and automotive products, and the UK’s leading operator in garage servicing and auto repair, with offices, Distribution Centres, Autocentres and over 460 Retail Stores across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Since the launch of the Know Your Religious Freedom Rights facility, we’ve received inquiries or requests for advocacy assistance every week. If you’re interested in knowing your rights, you can fill out the inquiry form here.

Picture courtesy of Sarbat-khalsa.org

 In November, the Sikh nation came together in Panjab for Sarbat Khalsa 2015 to work against the corruption and human rights abuses that plague our community. UNITED SIKHS representatives attended the event to represent the interests of the international Sikh community.

Later that month, we marked the fourth annual Sikh Awareness Month in California with Turban Day at San Jose State University (SJSU) in partnership with the SJSU Sikh Student Association, and an anti-bullying workshop at Milpitas Singh Sabha Gurudwara Fighting ignorance and promoting awareness of the Sikh faith and identity is crucial to combatting the hate crimes and discrimination often faced by the Sikh community.

Virender Singh arrested for wearing a kirpan

This Summer, US teen Virender Singh was walking to his local gurudwara, or Sikh place of worship, in New York when he was stopped by police and arrested for wearing a kirpan–a religious sword and article of the Sikh faith. We fought alongside Virender in court, and the charges against him were dropped in September.

UNITED SIKHS staff attorney Jaspreet Kaur addressing NY officials

 While case-by-case victories such as Virender Singh’s are necessary to fight for, we must also work towards preventing unwarranted arrests and profiling before they occur. In response to Virender’s case, our legal team held a training session for more than 100 of New York’s federal and state officials to educate them about the Sikh faith and identity. This was the first session of its kind held in New York, which is home to one of the largest Sikh communities in the United States.

Harpreet Singh, founder of Friends of the American Sikh Caucus, addressing Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy students.

Academy students meeting with the offices of Congressmen on Capitol Hill to discuss issues faced by the Sikh American community.

In July, the annual Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy was held in Washington, D.C., where nine students were trained by advocacy, humanitarian aid, and government officials to become our community’s next generation of leaders.

Petition signing events in the Washington DC area.

In May, bill S.806, the Drug Free Commercial Driver Act was sent to the Senate as a whole for consideration. If enacted, this bill will allow employers to force a Sikh operator to provide a hair sample without offering an alternate form of testing such as urinalysis, thereby preventing Sikhs from seeking employment as operators due to their inability to cut their hair for any purpose. On the heels of the introduction of this new bill, UNITED SIKHS reached out to every Congressperson and Senator on the bills’ sponsoring committees to educate them about the bills, and proposed the inclusion of a religious exemption amendment. Fifteen Congressmen’s and Senators’ offices met with UNITED SIKHS advocates during the 2015 Youth Summit on Capitol Hill, and were informed about this issue. Sikh congregations across the United States welcomed us to their gurudwaras, where we held petition signing events.

Your support is what makes this possible. Give a gift to help protect someone’s rights or empower their future in 2016.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter

Issued by,

Mejindarpal Kaur

Director, International Legal Attorney

International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA), UNITED SIKHS

E: law-global@unitedsikhs.org

Create Ripples With Us

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”-Mother Teresa

Global: UNITED SIKHS’ health and education projects continue to address growing needs of our community by expanding in scope of current services and projects. From oral health to hypertension to access to health insurance information and services, the Community Education & Empowerment (CEED) team is committed to bringing much needed resources to the community.

Before we highlight some of our ongoing work in the community, we ask your help to double the impact! UNITED SIKHS is providing one-on-one enrollment assistance in New Jersey entirely supported by private funding. A generous funder has offered to match the money we raise SO PLEASE DONATE WHAT YOU CAN, $20, $50– IT ALL HELPS.

Here are other ways you can help:

  • Volunteer with us. We need motivated community members working with us on projects and provide support.
  • Talk about the importance of health and education: Access to health and education is crucial for our growth and development as a community. If you think that your local community can benefit from a CEED project or service, contact us at ceed@unitedsikhs.org

A few highlights for 2015 from our CEED projects:

Ongoing ACA Outreach and Enrollment: With the important changes that are occurring in healthcare in the United States, UNITED SIKHS continues to provide free enrollment assistance in New York and New Jersey under the Affordable Care Act. Over the past few years, UNITED SIKHS has assisted nearly 1000 community members and reached out to over 15,000. The 2015-2016 open enrollment period is ongoing now, so if you live in New York City or New Jersey, and you need affordable health coverage, make sure to contact our team:

For health insurance assistance appointments in New York, please call us at 718-441-6644.

For health insurance assistance appointments in New Jersey, please call us at 732-860-5066.

Sikh American Families Oral Health Promotion Project: In partnership with the DentaQuest Foundation, UNITED New York University Health Promotion and Prevention Research Center, and New York University College of Dentistry, the Sikh American Families Oral Health Promotion Project has engaged over 200 members in oral health promotion. Community members across New York and New Jersey completed an oral care curriculum that focused on providing information and resources for better access to care in language and in a culturally competent manner. Results show a culturally-tailored community health worker (CHW) program may foster improved oral hygiene behaviors and increased confidence in being able to take care of one’s own oral health as well as engage with providers. The program also promoted oral health care access and was well-received by community members.

Flossing demonstration in Carteret, NJ

Health Equity Hero Award: DentaQuest selected Dr. Rucha Kaur, Project Manager for the CEED at UNITED SIKHS ,as one of its 2015 Health Equity Heroes. Dr. Kavathe was recognized for her work in assisting immigrant communities in New York and New Jersey navigate the U.S. healthcare system. She is one of only seven individuals honored in the inaugural year of the Health Equity Heroes awards. Each hero is making a significant contribution to removing barriers to achieve optimal oral health for all.

Project Manager Dr. Rucha Kaur with the DentaQuest Foundation team at the Health Equity Hero award presentation.

REACH FAR: Experts suggest that 1 in 5 Asian Indians in USA has high blood pressure, so to increase awareness of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in the Sikh American community, UNITED SIKHS has engaged community members as part of REACH FAR, a 3-year program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through a REACH grant awarded to the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health (NYU CSAAH). REACH FAR stands for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health for Asian Americans, and the goal of the program is to prevent cardiovascular disease in Asian Americans living in New York/New Jersey by increasing access to healthy foods and culturally tailored health coaching efforts to improve high blood pressure management.

REACH FAR promotion event in Carteret, NJ

Hypertension awareness project launch in Van Wyck, NY

Volunteers, partners and staff at the Keep on Track training, Richmond Hill, NY

Faith Based Fitness Initiative: Community members in Richmond Hill, Queens participated in a series of fitness classes as part of the Faith Based Fitness Initiative, supported by New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH). Certified instructors led weekly classes for 6 weeks to engage community members in physical activity. The goal of the Faith Based Physical Activity Challenge is to promote physical activity through the faith community to enhance the comprehensive obesity prevention programs in New York City.

Community members with their fitness instructors, Faith Based Activity Challenge.

Anti-Bullying Campaign Workshops: This year, anti-bullying workshops were held across the United States. During these workshops, children were given the opportunity to stand up and speak about their experiences with bullying, while parents and students also received resources to help them handle instances of bullying. In 2015, we had the privilege of working with partners such as the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, UK artist DhanjalArt, and filmmaker Harpreet Kaur to make each workshop a unique experience, and introduce attendees to the allies who are there to stand by their side.

Anti-bullying workshop in Sterling, VA

CEED team members and volunteers are committed to supporting and helping community members in need. Together we will initiate effective and long-lasting changes. With greater awareness, as a society we can develop effective ways of responding to the needs of our community.

This year, UNITED SIKHS has positively impacted thousands of lives. We CAN DO much more with your help.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts: Facebook | Twitter

Issued by,

Dr. Rucha Kaur

Project Manager,Community Education & Empowerment Directorate (CEED), UNITED SIKHS

P: (+1) 718-441-6644

E: ceed@unitedsikhs.org

Help More People in 2016

Thanks to your support, 2015 was one of our best years in humanitarian aid. Together, we brought hope to the flooded alleys of Chennai, earthquake devastated Nepal and Pakistan, submerged Malaysia and to thousands of Syrian and other refugees arriving in Europe. Join us as we take a look back at some of our humanitarian highlights this year.

Click here to read more about the Pak-Afghan relief effort.

Click here to read more about the Refugee Relief effort.

Click here to read more about feeding the homeless in New York.

Click here to read more about the Nepal Earthquake relief effort.

Click here to read more about the Malaysia Flood relief effort.

Click here to read more about the Washington Wildfire relief effort.

Now is the time to begin preparing for the assistance that will be required of us in 2016. What you give today will determine how far we can go tomorrow.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter

Give a Gift They Won’t Re-Box

Two of the 3,000 Syrian and other refugees who have already received hot meals from UNITED SIKHS, thanks to your support.

Today, we’ll gather around the hearth with our children and loved ones, as we remember the 300th anniversary of the shaheedi (martyrdom) of the Chhote Sahibzadey, who were six and nine years old when they were bricked-up alive by the Moghul authorities for refusing to give up their Sikh faith. Whilst our thick walls will shield us from the cold, we will recall how they were first kept in a cold burj (tower) with their grandmother, Mata Gujri, as pressure was put on them to give up their faith.

While you cherish their bravery, we also hope you’ll think of the young Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi refugees and their families, who are in need of a hot meal when they arrive on a night-train in Tabanovce, Macedonia. One such family is that of two-year-old Habiba, who arrived in subzero-temperature in Tabanovce this week, leaving behind unthinkable dangers in Iraq, and continuing on an equally treacherous path. Our team struggled to communicate with Habiba’s family, who spoke a little English and Arabi, but Habiba’s father continued to repeat two words to our volunteers in earnest: “Thank you.

18-year-old UNITED SIKHS volunteer Mussa Suleiman puts gloves on Habiba as her family eats hot daal (lentils) and bread.

In our six days in Macedonia, our team has heard the cries of children separated from their parents, the traumatic tales of survivors who narrowly escaped their home countries, and the tearful thanks of those who receive a cup of hot soup and a piece of bread–provided by your support for the UNITED SIKHS Refugee Relief Effort of 2015.

Over 3,000 refugees have been fed to date. With your support, we need to feed another 20,000 this Winter.

Benny Arben Suljmani, Mussa’s father and our partner from the local Bektashi community, says, “The refugees are hit by the coldest subzero temperature here in Tabanovce for the first time on their long and dangerous journey. This is the most important hot meal they will be fed. And we must feed each and every one of them.”

Kastriot Rexhepi of NUN Kultura Civil Association Skopje Macedonia said, “In cooperation with partner organization UNITED SIKHS, we provide the hot meal “Mercimek,” known in Arab countries as “Ades”, to warm up the refugees’ stomachs, and to reduce their challenges in the cold weather, very often below zero degrees Celsius in the evening and late nights at the transit refugee camp in Tabanovce. Hot meals are essential for the refugees in Winter. The smiles come back to their faces after they receive our hot meal service. Thank you friends from UNITED SIKHS for making this happen for them.”

In less than a week, your support brought 3,000 hot meals to these refugees. Help us spread the warmth to 600 more refugees tonight, and every night in the coming Winter months.

Read a previous press release on our hot meals appeal for refugees arriving in Tabanovce, Macedonia here.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts: Facebook | Twitter

Seva Changed My Life – Help Me Do More

UNITED SIKHS Aid distribution in Nepal. Click here.

Dear Supporter,

Nepal is still vivid in my imagination. I reached Nepal on 28th April, 2015; just three days after the first major earthquake. I was one of the first team members of the UNITED SIKHS team in Nepal. To reach Nepal at its need of hour was crucial, it took me many hours to reach Kathamandu because of congestion. Finally I reached Kathamandu where we set our base camp at Gurdwara Nanak Satsang at Kupondole.

I am humbled by the spirit of Nepal.

In two months we established fourteen medical camps. All health camps were held in far-flung areas, which took us hours to reach, and required miles of walking. Our medical team treated 5,000 patients. Along with the camps, tarpaulins and food was distributed to those in need. Later, we helped people with Corrugated galvanised iron sheets, which are used for construction and known locally as Jaastas. One of UNITED SIKHS’ strategic decisions was to move away from Kathmandu and provide help to Nepalese who were cut off from all the support offered to Nepal due to reasons such as a lack of connecting routes.

My two months of seva, or selfless service, in Nepal has changed my life in many ways. It has added value to everything I do now. I never realised the worth of things, the way that I do now. Disaster has no religion; I realised that humanity is built across people of different nations, cultures, and religions. Some of them are amazed to see Sikhs for the first time in their life. I worked with a very enthusiastic team, with people from every profession and every age group working together relentlessly for the same cause. I realized that disaster binds humanity at large. The team was comprised of Amritpal Singh (Bhatia Uncle) 63, Architect Jasbir Singh, Inderjit Bhenji, Palwinder Veerji, Bhai Esher Singh, Mejinderpal Kaur, and doctors and volunteers between the age group of 25-40 years. Rishab, Gurvesh, Harneet, Harmeet, Amarjit, Intidnerpal, Gurjit, Majinderpal Singh, Manish, Amanjot, Sabin, Anup, Shyam Pandey, Raminder Kaur, Milanjeet, Martha, Latoya, Naina and our two drivers Ravi and Jairman. All of our work would have remained an unfinished task without the help of people from Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship): Karnail Singh, Preetam Singh, Gudi Aunty and other sevadaars (volunteers) who prepared langar; kids from gurdwaras who helped us in all this; a big thanks to all.

Exchanging a letter of appreciation with Nepal Army, Jagadal Battalion at Chhauni Kathmandu.

My journey of two months was made possible because of your kind support. Traveling to two epicenters of earthquake and almost all affected areas from Dolakha to Gorkha to Nawakot to Sindhupalchok all would have remained unfinished if it wasn’t for your donations and prayers.

I am thankful to UNITED SIKHS for giving me a chance to lead this project, especially in a region where women are still struggling to find equal ground. Their faith in me has enhanced my confidence like no other. This was not just seva, but a spiritual journey of understanding myself and assessing my strengths and weaknesses. I don’t have enough words to thank the Nepal Army headed by Captain Santosh as it shouldered our responsibility of relief work.

One of the most heartbreaking stories is that of Sagar, a 19-year old who lost his left arm due to the earthquake. Due to extreme conditions of poverty, Sagar couldn’t continue his education and had to work in a dance bar for two years. If that is not tragic enough, due to the loss of a limb during the earthquake, he is incapable of earning a living for himself.

I met him in the army camp where he was receiving medical treatment. He sounded very depressed about his future prospects as he is afraid to go back to his village because he thinks others will make fun of his disfigurement. He needs all the encouragement there is to start a new life. I plead to you that if you want to make a difference in the world, start with Sagar – help him realise his dreams, achieve his goals and foremost complete his education.

19-year-old Sagar

I have realized how a simple thing like one piece of tarpaulin can make a difference in anyone’s life. Nepal’s wholehearted acceptance of me and UNITED SIKHS’ help has changed me for life.

None of this would be possible without your support. Help us help them and donate to UNITED SIKHS today.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS events by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter

Sincerely and in Chardi Kala,

Komal Jb Singh

Field Project lead, Nepal Quake Relief 2015, UNITED SIKHS

Help the Urgent Medical Need in Nepal

Dear Supporter,

In April, UNITED SIKHS volunteers examined Phoola Maya Tamang at a medical camp set up in Nepal after the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated the nation and left many in need of urgent medical aid. When it was determined that the 57-year-old mother needed further medical care, we transported her to the nearest government hospital, and promised to cover all medical expenses when she was admitted to the high care unit. Phoola was one of over 1,000 individuals treated during our Nepal Relief Effort of 2015.

Little did we know that Nepal would need our help so soon after we bid the nation farewell. But the call has been heard, and we need your help to support Nepal again.

Reports from the Red Cross in Nepal and our contacts on the ground have impressed the need of urgent medical aid to be delivered to Nepal. UNITED SIKHS aims to help supply various medicines and 25,000 urgently-needed blood collection bags (bags that will be used to store blood for individuals in need of blood transfusions), and we need your help to do this. We humbly request you to donate whatever you can to help provide the funds necessary to supply urgent medical care to those in need in Nepal.

UNITED SIKHS providing medical care in Nepal earlier this year.

Why is medical aid urgently needed?

The current situation prevailing in Nepal has caused one of the most dire fuel-shortages the country has ever seen. Medicine and other supplies are also in dangerously low supply. Life saving medicines such as Injection Adrenaline, Injection Succinylcholine, Injection Nor-adrenaline , Atropine , Anesthesia, and Injection Dopamine are already out of stock in most of the major retailers. Nepal doesn’t manufacture injection (IV) products (mostly used in surgery and emergencies), except for one manufacturer with a limited band of the product. Hence the majority of such emergency drugs are rapidly becoming out of stock. Hospitals are also running very low on labor-inducing drugs, and some areas outside of the nation’s capital of Kathmandu have been forced to stop performing dialysis. Click hereto track current medical needs.

Earlier this year, we provided thousands with aid and assistance in Nepal. Once again, we have been called on by Nepal–this time with the specific request for medical aid. We cannot heed the call without your support; please donate today.

Keep up to date on UNITED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter

Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s Teachings Illuminated at White House for Sixth Year

Washington, DC–On December 14, the White House welcomed Sikh Americans for the sixth annual celebration of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s gurpurab (day of birth) through shabad (religious hymns), poetry, and a roundtable meeting alongside other Sikh organizations and White House officials to discuss Sikh issues. In addition to White House officials, speakers included Professor Amritjit Singh of Ohio University; Professor Nikky-Gurinder Kaur Singh of Colby College; Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President; and Vanity Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

During the round-table meeting, Sikh issues were brought to the forefront. We used this opportunity to discuss our work with the Department of Homeland (DHS) security in New Jersey, Georgia, and New York to make sure that Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) become safer through grants from the DHS to put in cameras, and how it is critical that these grants be extended to all major states of the USA. Also discussed was the video of a sleeping Sikh man that was put online, labeling him as ‘Bin Laden,’ as well as the recent upsurge in general anti-Sikh hostility following the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and the lack of public statements condemning anti-Sikh hate crimes. Finally, we discussed the importance of knowing that our children will have the freedom to live their lives as both Sikhs and Americans, without having to compromise their turbans to go to school, their kirpans to leave their homes, or their beliefs, to live out their dreams.

“Recently, there have been some abhorrent incidents of hate against Sikhs. Discussions and events like these represent the important role the Sikh community plays in this nation’s fabric, as well as solidarity. Our work to ensure the rights and freedoms of all Americans regardless of race or religions is far from over, and it is crucial that meetings like this one are held to raise awareness of this issue,” said UNITED SIKHS staff attorney Jaspreet Kaur.

“As we celebrate Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s gurpurab, it is important to make an effort to revitalize the role his teachings play in our lives. At the White House this week, we did this by proliferating his timeless teachings to an audience of government officials, many of whom were new to the teachings of Sikhism. One such message is that of sacha sauda (the true bargain): The true bargain of life is sharing one’s earnings with the needy and helping in whatever way we can. Humanitarian aid is one of the ways we strive to recognize the human race as one–another lesson we learned from Guru Ji”, said UNITED SIKHS operations manager Surmeet Kaur.

As articulated by Professor Amritjit Singh, it is crucial that our organization continue to carry out humanitarian relief efforts around the world so that Sikhs become visible through seva, or selfless service. The idea of celebrating gurpurabs in the White House is something many of us could not have imagined even ten years ago. Please support our advocacy and civil rights efforts to help us continue working towards an even more inclusive America for us and for generations to come.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS events by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter |

 

Imagine Her as Your Child

Tabanovce, Macedonia: On December 16, 2015, the UNITED SIKHS Refugee Relief Team watched in stunned silence as a 5:00 am train carrying hundreds of refugees arrived in Tabanovce was greeted by subzero temperatures. Safeea was one of hundreds of toddlers who shuffled off the train after a train ride of four hours, and in the morning walked a few kilometers to the nearest village in Serbia. Despite her silence, her face spoke volumes.

Safeea could have been one of those hundreds of refugees who had not had a hot meal for the last 12 hours, before they arrived in Tabanovce, Macedonia. The same town where thousands of refugees from Syria and other tumultuous nations arrive every night after fleeing dire political situations and being trafficked across deadly waters. Our team of volunteers that night were headed by UNITED SIKHS Asia Pacific Coordinator Rishiwant Singh. Even with his ten years of field experience on the humanitarian aid front Rishiwant was totally unprepared for the physical and emotional toll of witnessing hundreds of children, too cold to cry, trudge solemnly ahead in their journey of survival.

“I could barely breathe let alone stand completely numb in the cold. The pain was just excruciating. I kept looking at the children. Thank God it was dark. So no one could see me crying. How can we stand aside and do nothing while these people are suffering so much,” he said.

On Sunday, the UNITED SIKHS Refugee Relief team working with our local partners started serving the first hot meals to refugees arriving in Tabanovce. We are compelled by the authorities to obtain the hot meals from a licensed company at set rates. For £3 ($5) we can serve a hot meal to a family of three. Our partners, the Bektashi community of Macedonia, the European South Eastern University, and NUN Kultura Civil Association Skopje Macedonia will assist in the distribution of the hot meals, fruit and bread to as many refugees as possible. Our media partner Sikh Channel will relay videos of our relief work in Tabanovce where up to 2,000 refugees pass through every day.

Donate just £3 ($5) to serve the first hot meal of lentils and bread to a refugee family tonight.

In the days leading up to their arrival in Macedonia, each of these individuals have risked their lives–likely more than once–across multiple countries, seas, and trains. After our team meets them, they continue out into uncertainty. But during that short time, your support allows us to be a beacon of hope that greets them with a smile, and the comfort of a hot meal.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS events by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter |

Want to bring a bigger change?

 

 

 

Divya Kaur (right).

Below is a message from UNITED SIKHS Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid (AHAA) graduate Divya Kaur. 

 

Dear Supporter Ji,

Right from my childhood, I have faced the challenges of modern society. Should I learn Gurmukhi or Spanish? Harmonium or Piano? Shabad Kirtan or Choir? Would colleges give me credit for choosing something they are not familiar with? Would organization and corporations understand that Langar Seva (serving food) is on equal footing with volunteering at a food shelter? This created an emotional tussle between me and myself, but I chose the former-my Sikh identity-because that’s who I am.

As a teenager, I realized that America welcomes everyone. However, Washington D.C. expects different communities to speak up for themselves. Without the hard work of a few, minority groups will neither get recognition, nor their rights. That’s why, although I had many opportunities for internships and other programs, I was ecstatic to be chosen into the highly selective UNITED SIKHS Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy (AHAA) this summer. Meeting with congressmen in D.C. and being part of the minority voice was a dream come true. It is not that I walked into their office and they had an open time slot to meet with me. The bigger question was “What coherent powerful impressionable statement would I make when I meet with influential policy makers?” Never had I thought about such details, until I decided to be mentored by professionals.

AHAA students met with the office of Congressman Mike Honda.

First, I applied and was welcomed into the UNITED SIKHS Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy. The Academy platform was used to organize workshops to decipher the policy making process. It arranged for speakers to highlight global Sikh issues and helped students like myself network with professionals whose business is advocacy. They taught the entire process of engaging with lawmakers to make powerful impression. Just the inspiration from the boundless energy of the people itself was priceless. My mentor, UNITED SIKHS attorney Jaspreet Kaur, actually drove down from New York and dedicated countless hours to coach a team of us.

This experience was a must-have to provide a serious boost to my motivation and uplift my confidence. UNITED SIKHS arranged everything starting with picking me up from the airport. Because Sikh donors from all walks of life have contributed to UNITED SIKHS, I was able to have this experience at a mere nominal fee. Based on my firsthand experience, I know our future is in need of serious investment. We all make investments – financial investments for retirement, familial investments in our children, investment in our community to build a better world. Obviously, the better world must include our values and provide opportunities for our community.

Why not connect with UNITED SIKHS? It is an eminent organization that promulgates Sikh values and human rights. You can start with a donation! A part of your dasvandh (donation) can be used for a better future: yours and mine.

I am Divya Kaur, a graduate of the UNITED SIKHS Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy, and a teenager focused on making an even bigger difference in the world, and I approve this message.

Sincerely,

Divya Kaur

Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy Graduate

UNITED SIKHS