As Kerala grapples with the unprecedented flooding, a group of Sikh volunteers from Khalsa Aid International, the UK based philanthropist group came to the aid of victims of the calamity. The volunteers, who reached Kochi on Friday, organised langar for the flood-hit people with the help of Gurudwara Singh Sabha, Thevara. They have set up a relief camp where meals are being served to 3,000 people.
“Our team is currently at Assisi Vidyaniketan Public School, Perumpilly in Kochi and serving langar to 3,000 people. We have adopted this camp. More volunteers will reach there soon,” said Amarpreet Singh, Asia Pacific managing director of Khalsa Aid.
Japneet Singh from Ludhiana, Inderjeet Singh from Delhi, Jasbeer Singh from Khanna and Navalpal Singh from Jalandhar are part of the first team of Khalsa Aid volunteers which has reached Kerala. They are being helped by eight local volunteers. “We served rice and veggies to people last night. Local gurudwara is helping in preparing food,” said Singh.
Gursahib Singh, a volunteer from Ludhiana said, “As per inputs from our team on ground zero in Kerala, people are in dire need of sanitary pads, mosquito nets, anti-bacterial soaps, slippers, tarapaulin sheets, knives, among other things. Soon, we will be establishing collection centres in Punjab to donate these.”
Punjab, in keeping with Guru Nanak’s teachings of ‘vand chhak‘ (sharing with less fortunate and eating together) and langar (community kitchens)- has stepped up to help. On Saturday, one lakh packets of relief material, each consisting of a mineral water bottle, biscuits, rusk, skimmed milk, sugar and tea leaves, were dispatched from Ludhiana by the government of Punjab.
Pardeep Aggarwal, deputy commissioner, Ludhiana, said, “A team of our senior officers led by IAS Basant Garg are going to Kerala. We have coordinated with Kerala government and choppers to transport relief material have been provided by Indian Air Force (IAF). Choppers will take off from Halwara air force station tonight and land at Trivandrum in Kerala. Currently, cartons are being loaded. Ludhiana received a target of dispatching one lakh packets under the relief announced by CM Captain Amarinder Singh for Kerala.”
Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu said, “It is the teachings of our Gurus that we have to follow principle of ‘Vand chhak’ and think about others before ourselves. Kerala is a part of our country and they are in dire need of help. Punjab is ready to send more material as per their requirement. CM has announced aid of Rs 10 crore for Kerala including Rs 5 crore for relief material. The first lot has been dispatched today from Ludhiana.”