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From the Field
Relief Workers' Report

UNITED SIKHS, an international non-profit human development NGO, is currently working to provide humanitarian aid to victims of the Asian tsunami disaster. Current UNITED SIKHS projects include relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nicobar Islands, South India, and Aceh, Indonesia.

(Jan 15)
By Lakhvinder Kaur of Singapore, Project Counsellor for South India

Waheguru jee ka Khalsa Waheguru jee ki fateh

We went to pondicherry today to change money to celebrate Ponggol here .. a festival marking the end of winter and begining of spring .. its apparently a joyous occassion but i must say .. everyone here says that this year there is nothing to celebrate, especilly not for the fishermen.

I decided to buy educational toys, like those cards on shapes, mathematics concept, professions, colours .. all flash card concepts .. more clothes, drawing blocks, crayons .... thick and thin ones ...

CNBC was doing a recording in this orphanage: about these kids. That they need help not only now but also much later ... we saw this and we got the channel locals to help us translate the whole exercise we did with the kids ...

They worked with the colours and paper and we asked them to pick colours and draw whatever they felt ... it could be feeling the sun, feeling hungry, angry or sad or pained ... we sat with them in groups and acted out to some extent our emotions .. all of which was explained and encouraged .. in short we suggested that this exercise be done every day for 10 mins and then they each share a toffee ..gave them a huge bag .. that will last a month at least .. i feel this exercise will allow these kids to understand that they have moods, and can feel sad or any emotion .. i understand today too that the counsellor had come to meet the kids .. 2 girls were crying for they wanted to be with their dad ... afterall its Ponggol.

the caregivers are doing their best and all is fine at this moment .. i think we need to see what happens in a month's time .. if all is the same and ok, then too .. if they are well treated and catered too then my concern ..when all ends ... the foreigners who are here are all gone .... what happens ...?

each of these kids has 5 lakhs in their accounts .. that is to be given to them when they reach 18....

i feel .. there is not much for us to do now .. for after speaking again with the collector's office ... its clear that many NGO'S have taken up building homes offer which is what they need most and that basic needs are attended too, emotionally as i said ... unless we have a long term base here we cant attend to anything with any great results ..?

i m going to leave this place tomorrow for my flight is on 17th nite .. I hear Bhai Sahib Isher Singh our project leader is going to stay in Port Blair for a month for the situation of the Sikhs family there is not healthy at all .. they have been apparently fed dhall and rice for 3 weeks .. and have lost all .. heard grain is being sent from Golden Temple and needs are being dealt so fast and so well .. feel so proud of our GURU SIKHS here .. for its so fast all have acted together .. its amazing how thou all want to be acknowledge .. they do move to help, save and preserve their type ... i am seeing it first hand for I am a singaporean .. and its beautiful to see the earnestness....

I feel we can help raise awareness, when these people have homes established .. now they are not able to see beyond for they are afraid of their future and are not calm that way to establish systems, so to speak.,in their life ..

We can create jobs for village women .. someday so that the wives of fishermen can do some work and have an income .. they can produce local authentic art work ... like bags, candles and purses etc that can be sold in India and elsewhere .. we can build better schools, raise standards .. paint schools so they look like schools that are clean ans healthy looking and cheerful too ..we can help girls and boys learn life skills .. i dont know ... i feel there is lots that we can do .. all not related to this phase at this moment though ..

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