Beacon of Hope
By Karamjit Singh
Local Acehnese Remain Warm and Friendly
POSKO GLOBAL SIKHS. That is the name Tsunami survivors are calling the base
camp of the Global Sikhs in the city of Sabang, Pulau Weh. Translated it
means Global Sikhs Command Centre.
That was one of the conversations between Aceh in Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur
that catches attention.
But the real meaning and message it sends to them is, "You are not alone.
The world cares. We care and will help within our means to help you rebuild
Being the only relief mission on Pulau Weh - the island just north Banda
Aceh which was devastated in the Dec 26 tsunami - the presence of the GLOBAL
SIKHS team has become a beacon of hope for the battered survivors.
Indeed, besides the excellent care and caring shown by the relief in terms
of medical and psychological support, the team has been buying vegetables
from a nearby market to feed the people as malnourishment is evident among
Believe or not, some traders refuse to accept payment from team members of
the GLOBAL SIKHS. "They are the people helping us..No, no, we won't take
payment," some of them were heard saying.
Two important pointers here: first, the traders are back. Second, the warm
welcome to the relief workers shows the indominable human spirit to overcome
disaster has not been washed away by the Tsunami.
This represents the first small step towards the return of normality, even
though we know full well, that will take years. GLOBAL SIKHS, like the other
humanitarian agencies, will play their role in this.
The 23 international volunteers on the GLOBAL SIKHS mission left Malaysia on
the mission to assist the victims of the tsunami in neighbouring Indonesia
last Friday (Jan 7). They team, comprising of volunteers from SIKH NAUJAWAN
SABHA MALAYSIA and UNITED SIKHS, went on board two yatchs made available by
a group of sailors based in Langkawi, a popular tourist island on the west
of Peninsular Malaysia.
The team is scheduled to return next week.
This weekend (Saturday and Sunday - Jan 15-16), volunteers for Mission II to
Aceh will begin their training.
In a separate mission, UNITED SIKHS announced today that its South India
team made a breakthrough when it managed to book seats on a flight to
Campbell Bay, Great Nicobar Island, tomorrow. The team, which will be joined
by Ravinder Singh of KHALSA AID and Kulwant Singh of SRI GURU GOBIND SINGH
STUDY CIRCLE (BOMBAY), will assess the situation and provide relief in the
Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean.
WITH telecommunications infrastructure ravaged, it was with great relief
that the rescue team found themselves in a city which had a functioning
phone line, soon after they got there! And within 7 hours of this happening
on Tuesday, Jan 11, they even got a fax connection and Internet
connectivity! Talk about minor miracles.
Without wasting any time, the GLOBAL SIKHS' team got themselves hooked up
and using Skype, the Dutch based software company that offers Internet
telephony, Mission Command Centre in KL was soon talking to our band of
valiant volunteers in Aceh!
Our parting words to them on Thursday night: "We are with you. You are doing
great seva and making us proud! Come back safe."