Posts tagged ‘UNITED SIKHS’

Hurricane Irene Update: Disaster Assistance Resource Guide

 Sep 201, New York, NY:  To help people locate assistance for needs caused by Hurricane Irene.  2-1-1 Adirondack Region is responsible for updating and distribution of the Disaster Assistance Resource Guide, Adirondack Region.  For up-to-date information on this guide, visit (updated daily).  Continue reading ‘Hurricane Irene Update: Disaster Assistance Resource Guide’ »

Hurricane Irene Update: Five More Disaster Recovery Centers Set to Open

September 19, 2011,  ALBANY, N.Y. — Five more state and federal Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) will open on Tuesday, September 20, to assist individuals, households and businesses affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and the subsequent flooding, according to state and federal officials. Continue reading ‘Hurricane Irene Update: Five More Disaster Recovery Centers Set to Open’ »

Hurricane Irene Update: Disaster Assistance Guides

19th Sep 2011, New York, NY:  Attached are disaster assistance guides produced by local 2-1-1, New York State and the Long Island VOAD.  The guides outline resources and forms of assistance available to those impacted by recent storms. Continue reading ‘Hurricane Irene Update: Disaster Assistance Guides’ »

Hurricane Irene Update: Individual Assistance for Homeowners, renters and small businesses in the East Coast


New York, NY, Sep 12th, 2011: In the wake of Hurricane Irene, individual assistance is available for homeowners, renters and small businesses in Bronx, Kings, Queens and Richmond counties.  In addition, public assistance is available for NYC agencies and eligible Private Not for Profits (PNPs) that sustained damage or have response/recovery costs associated with Hurricane Irene (DR 4020) in all 5 boroughs. Continue reading ‘Hurricane Irene Update: Individual Assistance for Homeowners, renters and small businesses in the East Coast’ »

A Hope at a time – Note from Nairobi

Children at Africa Hope Center performing in the Activity Session with the UNITED SIKHS Team

Gurvinder Singh, UNITED SIKHS Director from Texas, USA, recalls the famous lines of Nida Fazli, an Urdu poet from India, “Ghar se Masjid hai bahut door, chalo yun kar lein, Kisi rotey huey bachhey ko hansaya jaaye” (The Prayer Hall is a long distance from home, let us instead bring laughter to a child in tears). This line summed up his experience with the volunteers from various grassroots organizations working for the children of Kenya. When you help a child, divinity is right there.

The UNITED SIKHS team from USA was at Africa Hope Center on January 13, 2010. The Africa Hope Center Children’s Home is located in Kayole, Eastland of the city of Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. The center opened its doors in January 2005 with 5 AIDS affected orphan children. This number has grown to 107 today including boys and girls ranging in age from 4 to 18 years. The center provides basic necessities of life namely food, clothing, and shelter, and helps the children overcome the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through counseling programs. Africa Hope Center also ensures that the children get the best education given the available resources. The average cost per child is $100 per month.

Children at the Africa Hope Center, Nairobi

Jaswinder Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Kenya Director has been involved with the Centre since inception. The center is in the process of constructing its own premises. The facility, once completed, will be a center of excellence with education center, hostels, computer laboratories, and a vocational training center. The entire project is set to cost KSH 40 Million (about USD 500,000). The first phase (costing approximately USD 120,000) is under construction, supported by UNITED SIKHS. The 5 children currently sponsored by UNITED SIKHS spent some time with our team and we will share what they had to say in a later note. The team also engaged all the children at the center in activities conveying the message of hope and Chardi Kala.

New Africa Hope Center Building under Construction, supported by UNITED SIKHS Kenya

Children are the future of the world, clichéd, but true. In our own small ways we can do a lot to shape the future – volunteer or donate for grassroots projects for helping children in our own communities, nationally, or internationally. According to Analysts, despite the Millennium Development Goals and International Aid flowing into Africa, the major reasons that Africa continues to lag in development are: corruption, unfair trade practices and policies on the part of developed countries, and the lack of strict monitoring and non-involvement of beneficiary communities in donor-funded development projects. As individuals, we may not have much direct control on the first two factors, but the answer to the third issue is organizations like UNITED SIKHS that work with local communities, involve them, and are transparent (with negligible overheads). Sounds like democracy? It sure is at work with UNITED SIKHS!

United Sikhs Directors in Africa: Joshua’s message from Rusinga

Human stories the world over are the same – the triumph of faith in the divine in all of us. United Sikhs Directors are in Kenya and narrate their impressions from interacting with the local communities.

The first in the series is a touching story of someone who would like to share the gift of vision with his community in Rusinga:

UNITED SIKHS Team traveling to Rusinga island

Rusinga Island in the Nyanza District of Kenya is in Lake Victoria – the second largest lake in the world in terms of surface area after Lake Superior (USA). The Island is less than 100 km south of the Equator. Its temperate climate makes it a viable destination for tourists all the year round. There is a causeway connecting the island with the mainland. One can drive all the way from Nairobi or come through Kisumu cross by ferry from Lwanda (Naya).

Joshua was visually impaired in 1999 due to cataract. He learnt to live with it till Jaswinder kaur, Director, United Sikhs Kenya met him in 2008. She was on one of her campaigns to assist in medical treatment for people from remote areas who could either not afford it or went without it simply because Medical facilities do not exist in or near their communities. She brought him along with many others from the community to Nairobi for eye surgery. They got their vision back and today, Joshua is a happy man.

Joshua Oyugi in Rusinga on donated land with Jaswinder Kaur and Gurvinder Singh

He can see again and how – he sees a small clinic in his community for which he has donated a piece of land to UNITED SIKHS. He envisions the makeshift school near his land to have a better structure and an ambience where children can learn and grow to be proud citizens. He would like to see his community share in the mainstream economy starting with the basic benefits that they deserve.

Director of UNITED SIKHS from New York, Hardayal Singh mentioned how small things like a chair or a book can light up a child’s face. The simple concept of lunchtime at school does not exist for many children because their parents can only afford one meal a day. The beauty of this Island and other tourist attractions in Mbita nearby are enthralling, but not so the lack of basic amenities for the communities that live here.

Primary School Children in Rusinga with UNITED SIKHS

There is a need for a mobile clinic to rush children who suffer from snake bites to the nearest hospital – locals narrated instances of Python, Alligator, and Hippo attacks.

Dawn is not far though. Our team has had the opportunity to spend some time with the locals and other volunteer organizations that work in these areas. Volunteers work with local leaders without consideration of race/religion/country or any other affiliations. Together, we will achieve Joshua’s vision – for children and communities everywhere.

Wordsworth, the French Revolution, and Right To Turban

Today morning as I watched kids playfully careen through the State Park, memorized lines from younger days came gushing forth- “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very Heaven! I smiled to myself as I remembered those carefree days until the analytical grown up in me caught up with the thought. Which dawn is being referred to here?

So I went back to William Wordsworth, and guess what? The lines refer to the dawn of the French Revolution. Any reference to France stirs a different kind of emotion now, in the wake of the ban on wearing the Turban in public offices in France. I dug deeper. Though the French Revolution today invokes images of a reign of terror, it started as a truly romantic political act by people seeking an idealistic government of their choosing.

Back to Wordsworth:

“For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, us who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven! O times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!”

The world seems to remember neither the romance, nor the wars thereafter. The wars that saw many a Sikh auxiliar lay down their lives for lands foreign, for a better and safer world. They had not much protection and passed away with their Turban held high……the sameTurban that France and many other countries have turned away from today.

My thoughts run amok. I feel blessed to work with UNITED SIKHS, with these engaging Saint Soldiers who continue to NOT turn away from their responsibility as a good citizen of the world. My admiration for the iron lady “Mejinder Pal Kaur”, toiling away in the labyrinths of international judicial system for the “Right To Turban”. And the exciting projects for Youth, our hope for a better tomorrow.

Poetry and Wordsworth started this chain of thought, and I end on the same dreamy note. Pictures of turbaned fashionistas sashaying down the ramp in 2010 in France and elsewhere flash through, and I smile again, envisioning Sikh Turbans galore on the Champs-Élysées.

Exclusive Pictures from 2nd Camp in Barbancourt, Haiti

United Sikhs volunteers have continued the humanitarian relief work in Haiti.  Presented here are pictures from a camp held about 100 miles away from Port-au-Prince.  This camp was set up by Dharampal Sandhu, Tarlok Saggu and Raj Badwal and it served over 2000 people on daily basis. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Pictures from 2nd Camp in Barbancourt, Haiti’ »

Race For Life-Cancer Research

Cancer Research UKPLEASE JOIN US – In a Fun Run (Race for Life) to raise funds for Cancer Research

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru ji Ki Fateh!

Dear Volunteers, especially those living or holidaying in the UK, we  invite you to join the UNITED SIKHS Team as we help raise money for Cancer Research UK.  This is a Women only race, but the Men are welcome to come and support and provide us langar after our hard work – if we’re lucky!  Continue reading ‘Race For Life-Cancer Research’ »