Archive for the ‘News’ Category.

UNITED SIKHS Welcomes Appointment of Melissa Rogers As New White House Faith Based Director

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

New York, NY, March 15, 2013:  UNITED SIKHS  welcomes the appointment of Melissa Rogers as Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Continue reading ‘UNITED SIKHS Welcomes Appointment of Melissa Rogers As New White House Faith Based Director’ »

UNITED SIKHS Voter Registration Drive at Illinois Gurdwara

23rd Assu (Samvat 544 Nanakshahi)

Oct 7th. 2012, Palatine, Illinois: On Sunday, October 7th, UNITED SIKHS along with the Asian American Institute held a Voter Registration Drive at Palatine Gurdwara. A total of 35 people were registered to vote in Illinois at the Gurdwara. The President of the Gurdwara, Sukhdev Kaur Ghuman was very supportive and commended UNITED SIKHS for their successful and collaborative community advocacy efforts. Ekta Kaur of UNITED SIKHS said, “We loved working with the Palatine Gurdwara community and request other Gurdwara leaders to play an active role in encouraging their members to register to vote.”

UNITED SIKHS would like to thank Ami Gandhi, Executive Director of South Asian Policy and Research Institute and Reema Ahmad, Civic Engagement and Field Operations Manager at the American Asian Institute for all their assistance. Two members of the Asian American Institute assisted UNITED SIKHS at the Gurdwara and also brought Illinois Voter Registration forms and Mail-In Ballot forms.

While the Gurdwara had held voter registration drives in the prior two weeks by other organizations, this event registered significantly more members of the Gurdwara because of the ability of the UNITED SIKHS team to communicate effectively with community members, many of whom only spoke Punjabi. Sukhdev Kaur, the Gurdwara President said, “I am very excited about UNITED SIKHS efforts and look forward to working with you again in the future on advocacy projects directed toward the Sikh community.”

Vikram Singh, a UNITED SIKHS Volunteer Attorney based in Chicago, IL, said, “Sikhs and other minorities in every state should make their voices be heard by registering to vote and encouraging their communities to participate in civic engagement. Our vote is a very powerful mechanism for giving us a voice and the ability to control the legislation and policies enacted in our states, including laws that affect the rights of Sikhs and other minorities.”

To initiate a voter registration drive in your Gurdwara or local community center, please reach out to Ekta Kaur at ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org or voter-registration-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

Ekta Kaur
Cell: 516-286-6727 | Tel: 1-646-688-3525 | Toll Free: 1-888-243-1690
Fax: 1-810-885-4264 | Email: ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHS – Recognize the Human Race as One

Inter-faith Vigil at NYC

More than 1000 people from different faiths and communities gathered at the Union Square Park, New York to participate at the Interfaith Vigil organized by the Sikh Community of New York City. The vigil was organized to commemorate the killings that took place in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on 5th August, 2012.

In light of the tragic shootings that took place at the Sikh Gurdwara (temple) in Milwaukee an Interfaith candle light vigil and Ardaas (prayer) was organised and some prominent faith leaders, government reps participated and shared their condolences with the community. Different Sikh oranizations and associations such as UNITED SIKHS, Manhattan Sikh Association and Sikh Coalition etc. participated and helped everyone understand the basics of sikhism  by distributing the pamphlets of “Who are the Sikhs”

Prayers and condolences for victims of Wisconsin Sikh Temple attack

People from diiferent faiths and parts of the world make thier way through prayers and condolences for the victims of Wisconsin Sikh Temple attack

Gur Fateh!

I condemn this barbaric act of violence and atrocities against Gur Sikhs who were carrying out the blessed good deed of Sewa at the Gurdwara in various forms. I wholeheartedly wish to express my sincere condolences to the families, relations and friends and the Sikh community across the globe for this despicable act. Wahe Guru bless the soul of the martyrs and give strength to the families, relatives and friends to accept this unfortunate incident and come to terms with it.

 

My gratitude goes to the honorable president Mr. Barak Obama of the United States of America for the wonderful and humane action on ordering the flags to be flown at half mast and expressing his concerns and feeling for the Sikh community of USA.

 

May I also congratulate the officer who very bravely confronted and shot the suspect and unfortunately sustained severe injuries himself. I pray to Wahe Guru for the officer’s speedy recovery. I am ex- Metropolitan Police Service personnel from London and I am fully aware of the dangers the officers have to face in their line of duty in protecting the law abiding citizens. My sympathies also go to the families of the brave officer. (I am not sure if my message can be conveyed to the officer and his family please).

 

May WaheGuru bless United Sikhs of USA with success and long life in carrying out the good deed for the communities not in the USA but across the globe. 

 

Good luck and keep up the wonderful work.  

 

Kind Regards.

 

Harjinder Singh (Retired Strategic Diversity Consultant/Advisor Metropolitan Police Service)

 

As The Peace Islands Institute, we were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. This is not only an act of extreme violence; it is also an act of evil.  Our hearts are with the victims, their families, and the entire Oak Creek Sikh community. Our prayers and condolences go out to those killed and injured, and we share the grief of everyone affected by this senseless event.

Sincerely,
Peace Islands Institue

On behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury and on my own behalf, I want to assure our Sikh friends and colleagues of our prayers following the devastating attack on the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  At such a time, it becomes all the more important that religious groups work together to overcome all cultural forms that promote racial and ethnic hatred. We mourn the death of the Sikh victims, including the temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka, and I invite Christian churches and Sikh Gurdwaras to work together with inter religious groups to hold vigils and pray for the families involved.

Over the last decade, the religious communities in this country have worked very hard to develop meaningful and mutually supportive relationships. I hope that the Sikh community will feel that they are held in our prayers and that we can work together to prevent anything similar from happening again.

With my warm good wishes,

Toby

____________________

The Revd Dr Toby Howarth

Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England

 

As family members of those lost in the attacks of 9/11/2001, we mourn with those who lost family members and dear friends last Sunday in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Once again, we are compelled to reach out to those who have suffered directly such horrific violence.  We extend our friendship, our love and our solidarity with the entire Sikh community as we move forward from this day. We are with you in spirit, and should we be of assistance in any additional way, we are a phone call away.

With respect,

Colleen Kelly September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

My heart goes out to my Sikh brothers and sisters, and I wish you strength and support in your grieving and healing processes. Please let me know if there is a piece I can help with; the Sikh community has always been so generous and compassionate, God bless them.

– Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, LCSW, Rabbinic Director,NCJH & NYJHC,JBFCS

In my attempt to find global Sikh organisations to contact, you were the first I came across. I would just like to express my upmost sadness and dismay at the shooting which took place in  a temple in Wisconsin and resulted in the deaths of 6 innocent Sikh worshippers. Speaking for us Muslims, we have suffered much discrimination and abuse since the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the resultant war on terror and I have much empathy for the Sikh brothers and sisters to whom this abuse has often been deflected as a result of the hatred and ignorance of certain groups and individuals.

At these times, I believe that it is absolutely essential that members of both religious faiths unite and condemn this act of barbarism as a single body for only through a united front do we have a chance of facing down those who wish to persecute us. Gone are the days before partition when Muslims and Sikhs existed in almost equal numbers and in harmony in cities such as Lahore and Amristar and yet it is more important than ever at times like that that unity and friendship be replicated.

 – From a concerned British Muslim.

We strongly condemn the dastardly, cowardice, mad act against the sikh community in oak creek,

We offer our ardass for the peace of soul of those innocent devotees killed in mad  and meaningless shootout. Also waheguru give courage to the families to face the loss. It is extremely sad,

The sikh community there needs to be alert and appropriately prepared to protect themselves and attacks on gurudwaras, where the message of universal brotherhood and love is imparted.

Hukum te Bhana wahegurujee da,

– Sincere regards, Jatinderpal Singh Uppal Nagpur India

Mark Paul Arabo,  President & CEO, Neighborhood Market Association –  “On behalf of our 2,000 members and 21,000 employees in CA, AZ, and NV; we offer our deepest and most sincere condolences.  We are deeply saddened by the despicable acts of the shooting today at the Wisconsin Sikh temple.  We hope the law enforcement community catch these criminals who have caused this pain and justice is served.  We also hope and pray the Sikh community at large will start the healing process and this tragedy will bring everyone closer as one unit. You are all in my prayers and if there is anything we could do to support the Sikh community, please let me know.  I stand in solidarity with all of you”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President,New York Board of Rabbis – “When will these tragic senseless shootings stop? Our prayers are with victims and families. We will stand with all of you in a demonstration of spiritual solidarity.”

Peace, unity, compassion Jasvir Kaur tells us about her experience at Langgar 2012

Peace, unity, compassion seems far out of reach these days with all the complexities of life. Being around hopeful, active, optimistic people serving a greater good is the experience of sangat, it’s not out of reach at all. This is the experience I felt when I participated in Langaar 2012.

UNITED SIKHS asked me to represent the USA in one of its creative projects for the London 2012 Olympics Torch Relay. I was honoured and a bit selfish when I accepted the offer. Honored because they thought I was worthy of representing the UNITED SIKHS and selfish because I heard that Fauja Singh was going to be carrying the torch and I would meet him. It’s been a personal dream of mine to meet him. I first heard of Fauja Singh and his quest to run for charity about ten years back, when he was at the tender age of 92. After learning more about him, I was inspired to run a marathon as well. Yeap, did it once and that was enough for me. It’s a mental challenge more than a physical one, I understood why discipline was important. Discipline in diet, in exercising, simply in life!

July 20, 2012, in London, I was picked up by Sun Kaur, a beautiful, dedicated, determined soul. She’d been making deliveries since 6:30am to Gurdwaras participating in Langaar 2012. We became delivery girls for the day, delivering stickers, fliers, t-shirts, making sure they understand how to make ‘roti rolls’ and where and when to be at their stations to serve Langaar along the Relay route. I was amazed to hear how many Gurdwaras were taking part in the event. It’s hard enough for 2 Gurdwaras to agree to participate in an event, let alone FIFTEEN. By 8:30pm after all the deliveries were made, we arrived at the Gurdwara in Ilford.

We were greeted by so many ‘valahti’ volunteers. They drove hours to participate in this seva. In all the excitement of meeting one another from near and far, London, Birmingham, Canada and of course I’ve got to represent, US, we didn’t sleep all night. At the crack of dawn, 4am, we gathered to start the process of roti rolling, sabji stuffing, burrito-like wrapping, and sticker sticking. What a beautiful moment it was to do seva, the sangat singing ‘Asa di Vaar’ and “satnam waheguru…” I didn’t want that moment to end. By the time it was 9am, we had made 600 “Roti rolls”, half-way done but we only had a few more hours.

Wait! Do you hear that? ‘Baba ji (being respectful to his age) ahgahey”. All dressed in white, it’s Fauja Singh! The cameras come flying out and the flashes go crazy. The bibis elbow any one in their way, the bhajis slide their hands on their pughs before posing next to the superstar. Everyone is fighting for time with this inspiration, who walks in with his hands folded. He’s no academic or prodigy, in fact he can’t read or write, yet he has inspired so many people by living simply. The seva slows down for a bit as we take turns wanting to spend time with Fauja Singh. We want him to know we gathered, not for the Olympics, but because we are proud he’s chosen to run part of the Relay holding the Olympic torch. He’s the perfect one to represent a GurSikh. He’s Sabat Soorat, alert, talkative, optimistic, inspiring AND he’s 101 years old. Unbelievable he is!

A quick visit by Fauja Singh and it’s back to the seva with full force. More and more sangat joined, more assembly lines were formed and we did it. If only every sangat gathering could be this united, this motivated, imagine what we could accomplish. It’s 11am and we gather to get into our yellow “Langaar 2012” volunteer t-shirts, pack up the cars and head out to Relay Route. Along the Relay route our volunteers stood distinguished by the yellow t-shirts and dastaars. In all there were over 10,000 roti rolls made, served and devoured by spectators of the Olympic Relay route.

Then there was the moment, at 1:50pm, the Sevadars, spectators, and sports fans line up along the street waiting for the moment Fauja Singh will carry the Olympic torch. Of course the press is there and Singhs spot them to make sure they are noticed, videotaped and perhaps interviewed. But no one steals the show like Fauja Singh. There he is surrounded by security in grey uniforms, in the middle a beam of white light, Fauja Singh runs with the torch.

Langaar 2012 was splendid, spectacular and once in a life time moment. Thank you UNITED SIKHS, UK for uniting us to honor a legend and serve langaar and thank you UNITED SIKHS, USA for letting me experience a moment of peace, unity, and compassion.

Jasvir Kaur
UNITED SIKHS – USA volunteer

UNITED SIKHS participates at the INTERFAITH VIGIL at the UN Church

New York,USA : UNITED SIKHS participated at the Interfaith Vigil for the United Nations Negotiations for an Arms Trade Treaty on 26th July at the Church Center for the United Nations. The evening brought together leaders, scholars and representatives of different religions and faiths across the world to pray and advocate for a strong and binding Arms Trade Treaty.

The United States and 192 other countries are nearing the end of negotiations at the United Nations on a global treaty aimed at
controlling the trade in conventional weapons. The estimated $60 billion international arms trade is unregulated, though countries including the U.S. have their own rules on exports.

Representatives of different traditions collaborated and read prayers to support the desire for real transformation from violent conflict to restoring of communities and reconciling of relationships. Jasminder Kaur, a UNITED SIKHS volunteer, read an excerpt from the Sikh’s Holy Scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji along with its English translation to mark the representation of Sikh faith towards this cause.

The event concluded with  everyone lighting a candle in the hope for a positive outcome at ATT negotiations .

Link to the prayer video :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_22-RoZG5c&feature=channel&list=UL

English translation : – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APeqZtmR3xU&feature=channel&list=UL

 

Sept 16th – Palo Alto : SUPPORT FAMILIES, SAVE LIVES with UMEED, Join SEVA IN MOTION – UNITED SIKHS Walk-Run-Bike Event

MARK THE DATE : SEPTEMBER 16th – PALO ALTO downtown for SEVA IN MOTION – UNITED SIKHS Walk-Run-Bike Event
Join us to SUPPORT FAMILIES & SAVE LIVES with UMEED-UNITED SIKHS National Family Resource Center. Your support will help expand services to our community including Counseling for Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse, Senior Care Support Services, Youth Leadership Training Program, Bullying Prevention Interventions and After School Academic Programs. We greatly appreciate your time and support of our efforts!
– UMEED Team
To support and donate see information in link below….

SEVA IN MOTION – UNITED SIKHS WALK-RUN-BIKE EVENT -https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1TMXVc5t0p4e5ZmSt4kADVz-0aPzbGQua1p1nPCgTMFg

UNITED SIKHS invited to be a part of United Nations Arms Trade Treaty negotiations

New York, USA

UNITED SIKHS has been invited to represent Sikh Faith at the UN Arms Trade Treaty final day of negotiations at the UN Church Center . The eve will mark as an interfaith gathering where people from all faiths will concertedly pray/meditate for a miraculous closing to what is a difficult political negotiation between member states regarding rules and regulations surrounding the international trade in conventional weapons.

We hope you’ll be a part of the cause with us no matter whether you’re to speak or to stand and will pray with us, with or without physical presence, in solidarity with those who suffer because of the immoral trade in conventional weapons and with those who are working hard to make something good happen for the world.

A Hope at a time – Note from Nairobi

Children at Africa Hope Center performing in the Activity Session with the UNITED SIKHS Team

Gurvinder Singh, UNITED SIKHS Director from Texas, USA, recalls the famous lines of Nida Fazli, an Urdu poet from India, “Ghar se Masjid hai bahut door, chalo yun kar lein, Kisi rotey huey bachhey ko hansaya jaaye” (The Prayer Hall is a long distance from home, let us instead bring laughter to a child in tears). This line summed up his experience with the volunteers from various grassroots organizations working for the children of Kenya. When you help a child, divinity is right there.

The UNITED SIKHS team from USA was at Africa Hope Center on January 13, 2010. The Africa Hope Center Children’s Home is located in Kayole, Eastland of the city of Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. The center opened its doors in January 2005 with 5 AIDS affected orphan children. This number has grown to 107 today including boys and girls ranging in age from 4 to 18 years. The center provides basic necessities of life namely food, clothing, and shelter, and helps the children overcome the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through counseling programs. Africa Hope Center also ensures that the children get the best education given the available resources. The average cost per child is $100 per month.

Children at the Africa Hope Center, Nairobi

Jaswinder Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Kenya Director has been involved with the Centre since inception. The center is in the process of constructing its own premises. The facility, once completed, will be a center of excellence with education center, hostels, computer laboratories, and a vocational training center. The entire project is set to cost KSH 40 Million (about USD 500,000). The first phase (costing approximately USD 120,000) is under construction, supported by UNITED SIKHS. The 5 children currently sponsored by UNITED SIKHS spent some time with our team and we will share what they had to say in a later note. The team also engaged all the children at the center in activities conveying the message of hope and Chardi Kala.

New Africa Hope Center Building under Construction, supported by UNITED SIKHS Kenya

Children are the future of the world, clichéd, but true. In our own small ways we can do a lot to shape the future – volunteer or donate for grassroots projects for helping children in our own communities, nationally, or internationally. According to Analysts, despite the Millennium Development Goals and International Aid flowing into Africa, the major reasons that Africa continues to lag in development are: corruption, unfair trade practices and policies on the part of developed countries, and the lack of strict monitoring and non-involvement of beneficiary communities in donor-funded development projects. As individuals, we may not have much direct control on the first two factors, but the answer to the third issue is organizations like UNITED SIKHS that work with local communities, involve them, and are transparent (with negligible overheads). Sounds like democracy? It sure is at work with UNITED SIKHS!

United Sikhs Directors in Africa: Joshua’s message from Rusinga

Human stories the world over are the same – the triumph of faith in the divine in all of us. United Sikhs Directors are in Kenya and narrate their impressions from interacting with the local communities.

The first in the series is a touching story of someone who would like to share the gift of vision with his community in Rusinga:

UNITED SIKHS Team traveling to Rusinga island

Rusinga Island in the Nyanza District of Kenya is in Lake Victoria – the second largest lake in the world in terms of surface area after Lake Superior (USA). The Island is less than 100 km south of the Equator. Its temperate climate makes it a viable destination for tourists all the year round. There is a causeway connecting the island with the mainland. One can drive all the way from Nairobi or come through Kisumu cross by ferry from Lwanda (Naya).

Joshua was visually impaired in 1999 due to cataract. He learnt to live with it till Jaswinder kaur, Director, United Sikhs Kenya met him in 2008. She was on one of her campaigns to assist in medical treatment for people from remote areas who could either not afford it or went without it simply because Medical facilities do not exist in or near their communities. She brought him along with many others from the community to Nairobi for eye surgery. They got their vision back and today, Joshua is a happy man.

Joshua Oyugi in Rusinga on donated land with Jaswinder Kaur and Gurvinder Singh


He can see again and how – he sees a small clinic in his community for which he has donated a piece of land to UNITED SIKHS. He envisions the makeshift school near his land to have a better structure and an ambience where children can learn and grow to be proud citizens. He would like to see his community share in the mainstream economy starting with the basic benefits that they deserve.

Director of UNITED SIKHS from New York, Hardayal Singh mentioned how small things like a chair or a book can light up a child’s face. The simple concept of lunchtime at school does not exist for many children because their parents can only afford one meal a day. The beauty of this Island and other tourist attractions in Mbita nearby are enthralling, but not so the lack of basic amenities for the communities that live here.

Primary School Children in Rusinga with UNITED SIKHS

There is a need for a mobile clinic to rush children who suffer from snake bites to the nearest hospital – locals narrated instances of Python, Alligator, and Hippo attacks.

Dawn is not far though. Our team has had the opportunity to spend some time with the locals and other volunteer organizations that work in these areas. Volunteers work with local leaders without consideration of race/religion/country or any other affiliations. Together, we will achieve Joshua’s vision – for children and communities everywhere.