Khalsa Aid, the organisation which is well known across the world for its social work, helped hundreds of Kashmiri students who came to Mohali after they were harassed in some states in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. Khalsa Aid’s Asia Pacific director Amarpreet Singh spoke to The Indian Express about the organisation’s work across the world.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am the director of Khalsa Aid’s Asia Pacific zone. I have done my master’s degree in Social Work from Punjabi University, Patiala.
How did you become the coordinator of Khalsa Aid?
I belong to Patiala where I often used to frequent the gurdwaras along with my friends and serve langar to visitors. It was there that I came in contact with Khalsa Aid through a volunteer. It was 2012 and I was completing my commercial pilot’s training from Patiala Aviation Club. But the work being done by the Khalsa Aid enthused me so much that I quit the pilot training programme and started working for them full time. I was very impressed with the work they were doing across the world.
What is the geographical area you cover?
We cover the Asia Pacific region. In the recent past, I have led as many as 35 missions amongst which the major were the Nepal earthquake, Myanmar floods, Sri Lanka floods, Bihar floods, Gujarat floods, Kerala floods, Chennai floods, Saharanpur riots, Muzaffarnagar riots, Bangladesh and many more. We also helped around 250 Punjabi youths escape from Iraq with our help. Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann was also with us at that time.
How do you get volunteers? Are their any criteria for becoming one?
We follow a proper procedure in which we accept online applications from the interested people. We give some social work assignment to the shortlisted candidates and we choose the people who complete their work sincerely. After selection, the volunteers undergo one-day induction programme and then get recruited. We divide the volunteers into groups according to their capabilities. At present, around 18,000 volunteers are working with Khalsa Aid.
How do you raise funds?
The organisation raises funds by creating pages on social media or by starting a donation drive. In the Kerala mission, we did this and people donated generously. School and college students also raise funds on their own and send those to our organisation.
What is the role played by social media in your activities?
Social media, no doubt, plays a major role. It has become the backbone because it helps the organisation create awareness about various missions and the usage of their funds. We follow various social media platforms since our organisation’s work is based on donations. People want to donate money but they also want transparency. We make the entire process transparent through the social media.
What is your standard operating protocol in case of any emergency?
The organisation has various skilled and experienced volunteers. In case of emergency, our organisation generally prefers to press into action the experienced volunteers as they are well-trained. We provide continuous training to all the volunteers to hone their skills. It includes basic training for disaster management.
Tell us a bit about your experience in Kerala.
Well, the experience of serving in Kerala floods was really good. People might have forgotten Kerala but the Khalsa Aid volunteers are still there and serving those hit by the floods. Last month we adopted a school in Kerala where the students were still studying in the open due to the damage caused by floods, and its renovation is under process. We are also going to another school next month. It is an ongoing project and hopefully we will continue work in Kerala for around one more year.
What about Myanmar?
I served in Myanmar with another volunteer from Jammu and Kashmir. When we went to Myanmar, we saw that the people were desperate and they were in need of food, water and clothes. In 2018, our organisation adopted 1,000 families. There were pregnant women and children who were not getting proper food and nutrition. We prepared special nutrition kits and distributed these among the needy. Altogether it was a challenging project as we were also working in Bangladesh at the same time. But it earned a lot of respect for our organisation across the world.
Why do you think has your organisation become so well-known?
We are always ready to serve people caught in any emergency across the world. The quick response by the organisation is the reason behind its popularity. We are available round the clock. Our religion teaches us to serve humanity and our organisation is doing it in letter and spirit.
What is your advice to youngsters pursuing the field of social service?
My advice to the younger people is to always stand by humanity at every cost. There are lots of projects on which we can work. We should not feel hesitant or shy while serving the people. Remember, there are people who are always ready to donate for a good cause. Moreover, remember to give love and affection to people in distress.