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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.

-- 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 Indonesian language.

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 replied.

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).

Irish Captain

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 about.

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 of destruction."

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