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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.

115-Year Old Vessel Joins Aceh Relief Mission Beacon of Hope
(Jan 18)
By Jamie Furniss

A 115-year old vessel sets sail from on a GLOBAL SIKHS-WAVES OF MERCY mission to bring emergency supplies to victims of tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia.

The historical sailing vessel, Vega, sailed from Langkawi, Malaysia, today fully loaded with more than 6 tonnes of supplies meant for the mission's on-going humanitarian relief work in Aceh.

This makes Vega, built by Norwegian brothers Ole and Johann Nerhus, the oldest vessel to participate in the tsunami relief efforts.To make best use of space, Vega was emptied of fixtures and fragile items. The cargo consists primarily of rice, bedding and towels, plastic sheeting, biscuits, medical supplies, sardines and baby food.

"We are not so worried about the cargo, Vega was built for that. We are worried about all the half sunken boats and other trash drifting around out there. People have seen whole houses float by and most of our electronics are simply not working. Even if our radar was working it would still be dodgy at night," says Vega's Captain Shane Granger.

Manned by volunteer crews from Singapore, Germany and the United States, the ship will be supplying additional goods for GLOBAL SIKHS-WAVES OF MERCY team that left on January 6.

When asked about sailing such an ancient vessel in these difficult times, one crew members said: "Vega is much stronger than most modern boats. I'm not worried at all, but I do wish we had working radar to see the drifting boats and trash at night. That is scary."

The mission, spearheaded by Malaysian Sikh Youth, also known as Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, have sent a team of 31 volunteers, including 10 medical personnel.

WAVES OF MERCY, which among others handle the sea logistics of the operations, is a Langkawi-based relief team began by the island's yachting and boating community in response to the Dec 26 undersea earthquake and tsunami.

"The mission has proven remarkably successful as we have been able to spot and aide villages cut out form the rest of the world. We are able to do this because we have the boats," says Captain Hugo Crawford.

This has been achieved using a combination of private vessels such as Vega that have been made available to GLOBAL SIKHS-WAVS OF MERCY, and chartered commercial ferries and fishing trawlers.

On Jan 14, the GLOBAL SIKHS-WAVES OF MERCY team on board a yatch, Sean Paquitto, found a village found a group of villages close to the town of Lhok Seudu. The town had been cut off from the rest of the world for some 20 days.

"The villagers have had only rice to eat and are suffering from numerous problems. There is severe anemia, malaria, fungus disease, infections, scabies, malnutrition and general hunger. We are in great need of mefloquine as a malaria treatment and mosquito nets," says Dr George Latham on board vessel Sean Paquito, currently anchored outside the shores of the villages.
About Vega
Sometime before 1893 the Norwegian brothers Ole and Johann Nerhus laid the keel for a small wooden 60-ton cargo boat that has survived for well over a century of carrying cargo to become one of the oldest Baltic stone carriers under sail. She carried her last documented cargo of building stone in 1992.

After an extensive restoration in 1995-6 Vega began a new life. First she sailed in support of the United Nations Agenda 21, which promotes children's rights. Now she has a crew of communications experts who dedicate their time and energies to Public health and conservation education.

Vega's crew has successfully created major communications programs in 7 different countries and 6 different languages, while at the same time enhancing the capacity of local agencies to produce their own communications materials. A large part of Vega's work is volunteer. There is a Vega website at where more information about the boat is available.

When asked why they agreed to undertake this mission, one crew member replied "We want to do more than just produce brochures and posters. We want to actually get out there and deliver supplies. The brochures and posters can come later, after people are fed and cared for."

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