From the Field
Relief Workers' Report
GLOBAL SIKHS is an international relief effort to help the victims of the Tsunami in South East Asia. The mission is open to people from all races, religions and nationalities. The mission is a partnership between Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, a 41-year old Malaysian-based youth organization, UNITED SIKHS, an international non-profit human development NGO, and Waves of Mercy, a group of Langkawi-based sailors. Our mission is to assist the humanitarian relief operations in Aceh, Indonesia, in the most effective manner possible.
GLOBAL SIKHS IN ACEH
-- From Sabha House to Waves of Mercy
(Jan 12 - Report 4)
"THE Acehnese were very helpful..I think they love Punjabis," says
Kulwant Singh, one of the first humanitarian relief workers to find
their way into the Indonesian island ravaged by a combo of undersea
earthquake and a devastating tsunami.
Kulwant, a serving member on board of the Malaysian Red Crescent (the
equivalent of Red Cross) has just returned from the Aceh mission a
couple of days ago.
In what is probably his first engagement with the public, he spoke at
the GLOBAL SIKHS' daily briefing at its headquarters at Bangsar, Kuala
Lumpur, on Monday. (Jan 10).
"They were very happy to see Malaysians. They would insist on talking to
in Malay," says Kulwant who has been to many previous missions. Malay is
the official language of Malaysia, and has similarities with the
Still, he cautioned potential volunteers on relief missions to Aceh to
be watchful. He cautioned that the people would not hesitate to resort
to looting and turning violent. "You must understand: They have gone
through a traumatic experience."
"What about lady volunteers? Any issues of them joining the relief
mission," asked one participant of the briefing. "No! They are welcome.
There are many lady volunteers out there in Aceh at the moment," he
In his 40-minutes presentation, he also shared with viewers photographs
taken during the relief mission. Yes, they were gruesome.
As the number of volunteers increase, the briefing at 8.30pm was
initiated. It is also open to the public. Kulwant Singh was the second
invited guest at the briefing at its headquarters (Sabha House, 71,
Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur).
On Sunday, volunteers were able to hear firsthand from Captain Hugo
Crawford -- the wonderful Irish-born former carpenter - who patched
together the sea logistics that made the GLOBAL SIKHS mission possible.
Capt Hugo and friends were at Langkawi when tidal waves rocked the
shores of Langkawi, an island on west side of peninsular Malaysia. The
US$10m ship under his care - it belongs to a businessman - was one of
the few that were spared during the incident on Dec 26.
The 52-year old former carpenter, who hails from Belfast, refused to let
the tragedy get the better of him.
'The images haunted my mind as I tried to sleep," says Capt Hugo. "In a
flash, it was clear to me what I had to do. I'm a captain of a 130-foot
motor yatch. So, why not I attempt a rescue mission for the thousands of
unfortunate people along the coastline of Northen Sumatera."
He bandies around his fellow-seamen. That's how WAVES OF MERCY came
While Capt Captain and Hugo and friends were busy pooling resources at
Langkawi, in Kuala Lumpur, GLOBAL SIKHS were busy putting together a
team of relief workers to be sent to Aceh. They began mobilizing people
and collecting material. The folks from UNITED SIKHS were already
preparing to board their flights out of UK and Canada.
Hence, the match between GLOBAL SIKHS and WAVES OF MERCY was a marriage
made in heaven. "We had a team that all ready to go," says Harvinder
Singh, GLOBAL SIKHS' director of operations. "We had the medical
personnel and other relief workers. They had all gone through a training
programme that we had put up instantly. They also had received the
necessary inoculation. Hence, Capt Hugo and team provided us the means."
Asked how did the name came about, Capt Hugo says: "Well, after some
discussion, it just hit me: The waves of mercy will come after the waves