News feed: Global Sikhs—Waves of Mercy (www.snsm.org.my)
Medical doctors and nurses still urgently required for GLOBAL SIKHS-WAVES OF MERCY misison in Aceh. To volunteer, call Jasmeet Kaur at ++6-012.3022574 or command centre at ++603-22833713.
Restoring Life—We talk to the medical personnel who has just returned from Aceh
KUALA LUMPUR: January 27, 2005—The death toll has surpassed 220,000 dead or missing in Aceh, Indonesia and this figure is expected to climb. Yet, most of the residents of Sabang, Pulau Weh - north of Banda Aceh - managed to cheat death on December 26 last year when a Tsunami hit the island, leaving a trail of destruction.
“They were warned by their fore-fathers to be careful of a huge and powerful wave that wipes-out everything. Those living by the coast were told that these waves normally come after the sea water gets sucked into the ocean,” explains Mahinder Kaur, a volunteer nurse in GLOBAL SIKHS-WAVES OF MERCY’s first mission.
She said this information has been passed down from one generation to another, since the last devastating Tsunami hit the island 140 years ago. “As such, many residents ran to higher ground when the water level receded, resulting in only 60 or 70 deaths in Sabang,” she says.
Mahinder added that when she left Malaysia, she thought the work would involve 12 to 16 hour shifts with minimal rest. “Although, the situation was not so critical in Sabang, many of the survivors were badly injured…most of them suffered injuries which looked like whip-lashes all over their body. After treating the Sabang folk, we provided medical aid to smaller, remote villages on the island,” she says.
Another volunteer, Gurpreet Singh, adds that the residents were badly hit as they lost almost everything…their loved-ones, homes and livelihood. “The villagers, mainly fishermen, claim the Tsunami literally destroyed 3,000 boats when it washed away everything on the shore,” says Gurpreet, a paramedic from Canada, one of the UNITED SIKHS members who joined the mission.
He adds the people were very receptive towards the entire group, always putting up a brave front, smiling most of the time. “And, I tried to entertain the kids with my juggling skills, hoping to keep the smiles from fading,” quips Gurpeet.
Meanwhile, the generosity of the victims was what touched Dr. Kanta Rao the most. Depite losing so much and living in make-shift camps, the villagers have such big hearts, he notes.
“We visited all the nine Displaced Persons’ Camps on the island and treated most of them. After dressing their wounds and distributing medicines, we gave them food,” says Rao, adding that the villagers would then offer to share their meal with the relief workers. (The GLOBAL SIKHS-WAVES OF MERCY is the only aid agency on the island of Pulau Weh).
He described their meals as being just plain rice and vegetables or instant noodles. “However, the beauty of it is that the ones who had the least, were willing to give the most,” adds Rao with teary eyes.
Fellow volunteer, Dr Ranjit Kaur nodded in agreement and felt that all the Tsunami victims were so courageous and kind. “Here are people who have just buried their loved ones, lost families, houses plus face the Herculean task of re-building their lives, but they can still afford to give.”
Ranjit says the present need is to move on to the next phase, providing villagers with whatever assistance is needed to re-gain their lives. “We need to send vitamins to ensure the victims, especially the children, stay healthy and pregnant mothers have the necessary nutrition and care,” she say, adding a major part of aid should now focus on rehabilitation and treating trauma cases.
Ranjit adds that counselors would be able to help the victims heal from the shock they’ve been through in the last 30 days.
Ranjit was hospitalized for fever upon her return from Aceh. She has now been released after tests showing she did not catch any diseases.
Unlike Ranjit’s spring to health, Aceh is just pulling itself out of the Dec 26 earthquake and tsunami catastrophe. A month after the disaster news reports still show relief workers in Aceh pulling out corpses from the wreckage. However, some normalcy is slowly returning to the affected regions as several schools in Aceh re-opened yesterday.
Global Sikhs-Waves of Mercy: Background
WHO WE ARE
GLOBAL SIKHS-WAVES OF MERCY is the name coined for the international relief effort to help the earthquake and Tsunami victims in Aceh, Indonesia. It is an informal grouping of Sikh and non-Sikh organisations worldwide that want to assist in the relief mission. While the mission platform carries the name Sikh, it is open to people from all races, religions and nationalities. We have, both on the mission and at the headquarters level, volunteers from various races, religions and nationalities.
The mission is spearheaded by Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (Malaysian Sikh Youth), a Malaysian-based 41-year old youth organisation. This is a registered NGO in Malaysia and has performed various community projects in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region. Website: www.snsm.org.my
Its key operational partner is the WAVES OF MERCY, a group of Langkawi-based sailors who have rallied together to make the ships available to carry forward the mission. It is led by Captain Hugo Crawford. Some of the sailors have lost their boats in the tsunami incident. Website: www.wavesofmercy.com
Its main international partner is the UNITED SIKHS, an international NGO with chapters in Europe, America and Asia. It has sent five of its members to Kuala Lumpur for the relief work in Aceh. In separate missions, UNITED SIKHS have also sent their members to Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. Website: www.unitedsikhs.org
- Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), Washington, USA
- Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (GGSF), Washington, USA www.ggsf.org
- Gurmat Learning Zone. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/learning-zone/
- The Association of Sikh Physicians for Involvement, Response and Engagement (ASPIRE), USA
- Naujawan Sabha Melbourne, Australia
- Dya Singh World of Music
Our mission is to assist in the humanitarian relief operations in Aceh, Indonesia, in the most effective manner as possible. Funds raised and assistance rendered will go towards achieving the objective.
24-HOUR COMMAND CENTRE
GLOBAL SIKHS operates a round-the-clock control and command centre n Kuala Lumpur. Tel: ++ 603 - 2283 3713
||Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia - Tsunami Relief
||Bangsar Baru Branch
||66, 68 & 70, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar Baru, 59000 Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia.