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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.

Beacon of Hope
(Jan 14)
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 your lives."

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 the survivors.

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.

Using Technology
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."

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