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Khalsa Aid Delivers Langar To Refugees in North Iraq

GURMUKH SINGH [United Kingdom]





"The world must 'wake up' to the scale of the crisis in northern Iraq, warns [Sikh] British aid worker" – (The Independent on Sunday, August 24, 2014)

Truly “sava lakh” -- equal to a legion! -- Ravinder Singh of Khalsa Aid, popularly known as Ravi, is taking the great Sikh institution of Langar to parts of Northern Iraq where even aid agencies dare not go. 

What a remarkable Sikh with the blue dastaar, walking around amongst thousands of refugees in the desert camps, in temperature close to 50C, while children flock around him.
Ravinder Singh has remained in touch by telephone since he launched Khalsa Aid mission in Kurdistan on 12 August, 2014.

After the Somerset (UK) floods early this year, once again Khalsa Aid is in the national news. To quote Jamie Merrill reporting in “The Independent on Sunday”: 

The international community must "wake up" to the "vast scale" of the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq, a British aid worker has warned. Ravi Singh, founder of the Sikh humanitarian charity Khalsa Aid, described the struggle to provide food, water and shelter to hundreds of thousands of refugees, as the UN said the number of internally displaced people across Iraq had swelled to 1.45 million.”
Ravi Singh spoke on Sunday evening about the extremely harsh conditions under which the refugees and their children are suffering. Further to reports in the Sikh weeklies last week, he continues to arrange aid and assess the situation. One can only admire his compassion on reading the Independent report: 

As a lone, turbaned and bearded Sikh distributing disinfectant, milk and water, Mr Singh admits he's an unusual sight in northern Iraq. ‘I stick out like a sore thumb,’ he said. ‘I've taken to wearing a bright blue turban, not a black one, as the black turban is associated with the Islamic State and the horror these people have experienced.’ “
No mistaken identity with Islamic State terrorists here as children come running to him and, in affection, even reach out to touch his beard. The welcome for bearded and turbaned Ravi Singh has been heartening.
The scale of the help needed is too great a challenge for aid agencies to cope with. Also, these are some of the most dangerous places in the world.

Ravi is leading an initiative to open a bakery to make food for the refugees. He feels that in the true Sikh tradition, our focus should be on feeding the hungry in places where war and calamity create the greatest need. Sikhs should continue on their global mission to provide succour to the needy.

Gurmel Singh, Secretary General of The Sikh Council UK: “This is amazing!  A show of sheer courage and compassion that befits a Sikh.”

August 26, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Harman Singh (California, USA), August 27, 2014, 9:30 AM.

This is the true calling of Sikhi.

2: Harinder Singh (Punjab), August 27, 2014, 10:29 AM.

Waheguru always sends saints in difficult times.

3: N Singh (Canada), August 27, 2014, 10:30 AM.

I think we have had this conversation before. We all know how 'large-hearted' the Sikhs are but its a shame they cannot look after their own, in particular the victims of 1984. I am really beginning to question what this says about our community.

4: Manpreet Singh (California, USA), August 27, 2014, 10:58 AM.

Ravi Singh ji is doing an amazing job across the globe, be it Haiti, Japan, Iraq, etc., and closely following one of Guru Gobind Singh ji's hukamnamas: "Pardaesee, lorvaan, dukhee, apung manukh dee yataahshkat seva karnee". I also agree with N Singh that we Sikhs are the first ones to help others but when it comes to helping fellow Sikhs we simply show our backs ... not sure if we did anything for the Sikh-Afghans who arrived in UK in dire circumstances a couple of weeks ago. And we certainly haven't anything for the Sikhs who lost their near and dear ones 1984-1995 at the hands of India's political and religious goondas.

5: Rup Singh (Canada), August 27, 2014, 11:38 AM.

Sardar Ravinder Singh ji, well done! I commend you for having the courage to do seva in a war-zone. Waheguru bless and keep you safe. Does any Sikh "leader" in Punjab have the strength to walk alone amongst the people he is supposedly serving? Or actually do some physical work on the ground? The so called leaders are the ones we should hold accountable for their failure to work for the community. The best thing Sikhs can do is stop filling the golaks (and watch these masands run), and donate directly to reputable charities or just volunteer their time. I think too many Sikhs have a misunderstanding of dasvand; they feel just by donating money to the gurdwara their share of good work is done.

6: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 27, 2014, 11:39 AM.

Absolutely amazing. I find it interesting that this Sikh-Punjabi from the UK is going to Iraq to help whereas the Muslim-Punjabis from the UK are going to Iraq to rape, murder and pillage. I hope that he stays safe and makes sure to keep out of the conflict zone.

7: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 27, 2014, 11:40 AM.

@3 N Singh. Khalsa Aid does a lot of good work for Sikhs in India. One of their more recent projects was distributing auto rickshaws to survivors of the 1984 pogrom.

8: Bhai Harbans Lal (Dallas, Texas, USA), August 27, 2014, 12:18 PM.

We are delighted to see your photo serving the needy. Send some more, Ravi ji. You are blessed with opportunity to serve; must have good karma.

9: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), August 27, 2014, 2:16 PM.

Here is the trace of our present day Bhai Kanhaiyya in the business of humanitarian principles as recognized by the Guru, of treating people without regard to caste, creed or colour. While doling out, remember it is coming out of Guru's bhandar (bounty). In so doing Ravinder Singh ji, remember that seva, as defined in Sikhi, is special. And only accepted if Naam is on the lips when in His Majesty's Service. Otherwise it turns imperceptibly into ego. It becomes a mirage [GGS:224.14]. Beholding the phantom city, you have gone astray; how can you now find stability? That phantom city in the Guru Granth is Harchandori (mirage).

10: Tinku (Punjab), August 27, 2014, 5:46 PM.

First and foremost, we need to do full seva in the Widow Colonies scattered across India after the 1984 genocide. Then, there are Sikh-Afghans. And then the Sikhs still being held hostage in Iraq for ransom. Charity to be truly meaningful MUST begin at "home"!

11: Manbir Banwait (Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada), August 29, 2014, 3:54 AM.

All these folks complaining about how this particular Aid Agency must first help the Sikhs in the Widow Colony: Instead of complaining, go help them yourselves! Well done by Khalsa Aid! Stay Safe!

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