UNITED SIKHS is a non-governmental organisation that aims to empower those in need, particularly disadvantaged and minority communities around the world.
The Malaysian Chapter was launched in 2004, during the Bandar Aceh Tsunami of the same year, by the late Rishiwant Singh Randhawa, who was at Ground Zero.
GoodNews engaged with UNITED SIKHS, an NGO that, during the first Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18th March 2020, provided essential items to more than 1,500 families and have managed to help out the community again during the current MCO.
As identified by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) in 2020, Good News had learnt that they provided 70,000 packets of vegetarian food to those in need based in community centres in addition to essential items.
The NGO is mainly made up of Sikhs, but their mission is to serve everyone, Mandeep Singh, vice president of UNITED SIKHS and logistics chief, told GoodNews.
“Living within our means was everybody’s norm. Usually, we never appreciate what we have and, day by day, our needs continue to increase.”
“After joining the Kelantan Disaster Relief in 2014, my entire life changed. This was my turning point, affecting my whole life and even changing my lifestyle.”
“There is a home where we live and bask in happiness, so can you imagine watching the flood sweep your home away? What about losing within a split second a family member? ” he asked GoodNews.
The Jakarta Tsunami in 2018 also had a big effect on his life, he pointed out.
“I started learning how to coordinate on ground zero, how to navigate a helicopter drop that involves searching for a landing base camp and, most importantly, ensuring that appropriate assistance is provided.”
“There are different obstacles to every mission. The 2014 Kelantan flood, the 2015 Goodwill walk from Wang Kelian (Perlis) to Melaka (784km in 41 days), the organisation of Orang Asli ventures, the 2017 Grik flood relief, the 2016 and 2017 Goodwill walk, the 2018 Jakarta Tsunami, the 2018 and 2019 East Coast flood, as well as various missions during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he told GoodNews.
This journey was shared by Mandeep Singh and Dr Tezveendev Kaur
“My first volunteering time was in Pahang for flood relief and I initially had mixed feelings about it and didn’t know what to expect, ” said dental officer Dr Tezveendev Kaur Randhawa to GoodNews.
“Floods are one of the most devastating natural disasters, and recently, as part of their flood relief project in Pahang, I had a great opportunity to volunteer with UNITED SIKHS.
“Many families have been severely impacted and their homes have been wiped away and destroyed. We provided assistance to those in the flood-affected areas of Bentong, Raub, Benta, Mentakab and Temerloh,” she added.
The doctor said, “I learned there are many whose lives are much harder than mine. It made me feel like I ought to be thankful for the things I have in my life.
“We distributed household goods, food and many other necessities to the victims during this project. My team went to Temerloh, and as we went through the housing areas that were still flooded, it was an eye-opening experience.
“Victims, families and small children were walking through the water, with no belongings left, as everything was lost. My eyes teared,” she added.
She claimed that the scenes there were heart wrenching.
“Some of them had not eaten for days, and no electricity was available. With hopeful eyes, they looked at us as we brought them the essential items they needed. When they saw help coming, the kids were excited. I was pleased and grateful to have had an impact on the lives and community there,” Dr Tezveendev Kaur told of her encounter.
Rishiwant, who died in a road accident in India a few years ago while on a mission, vowed to feed every hungry person who crossed his path and served humanity with the slogan, “Recognise the human race as one.”
According to UNITED SIKHS, He was also involved in providing psychological support to the survivors of the 2005 Sri Lankan Tsunami, providing aid to the survivors of the 2008 Myanmar cyclone, building homes and a church after a typhoon hit the Philippines in 2013, offering food aid after the 2015 Myanmar floods and organising the 2014 Good Will Walk, in which he and others travelled 750 km for 34 days, in an effort to raise money for other noble causes in Malaysia.
UNITED SIKHS aims to transform, alleviate, educate and protect the lives of vulnerable groups and minority communities affected by natural or man-made disasters, hunger, illiteracy, disease or civil and human rights violations into informed and vibrant members of society by promoting sustainable programmes irrespective of colour, race, religion or faith.
They also foster diversity and equal opportunities among its staff, volunteers and beneficiaries of the project.
The Malaysian chapter soldiers on with that spirit.
For those who would like to support their cause as they prepare for the second wave of assistance to those directly affected by the MCO, contact the collection centre of UNITED SIKHS at 011-7116 9179.
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