Sikh Community practise Seva: Sends Care Kits to Local Women's Shelters

The Canada-based Algoma Sikh Association takes a novel approach to seva or selfless service by donating approximately 30...

The Canada-based Algoma Sikh Association takes a novel approach to seva or selfless service by donating approximately 30 care packages to Pauline’s Place and Women in Crisis Algoma. This was made possible by a fundraising effort of the association. 

The noble cause 

In honour of International Women's Day 2020 and as a contribution to One Billion Rising, a global movement to put an end to rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, the care packages, which were prepared by volunteers contained personal care items and other necessities for women were distributed .

According to Gurwinder Singh, President of the Algoma Sikh Association, who is also a member of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), this new-age initiative of making and delivering care packages is a way of practising seva, which is the central tenet of Sikhism. Singh first heard about  One Billion Rising through WSO, which also joined the worldwide campaign by preparing over 2,000 care packages for women and children in shelters across Canada.

Serving those in need 

As per Sikhism, people must serve their community, whether their own religious community or even beyond that. Fellow human beings should be served regardless of religion or belief. Adding to this, Singh said that all the care packages were assembled by volunteers. He further added, “Everyone who is experiencing violence or experiencing oppression needs help, so it’s built into our belief that if there’s anyone that needs help, we are supposed to be identified – that’s why we actually wear the turban and beard, so we’re easily identified in a crowd.”

Sikh people follow the tenets set by Sikhism, and seva is one of the most important ones. Anyone can seek help, and they shall receive it. 

According to Singh, more recent cuts made by the provincial government to emergency shelters and centres for sexual assault have been put in the hands of the ‘community as opposed to the government’. As a result of this, the local Sikh organisation has set a goal for the following year to deliver one hundred care packages as part of the efforts being made by the WSO to support the One Billion Rising initiative.

They also hoped to expand their care package project to shelters in Sault, Mich. as well. Sharing his views about the same, Singh said, “ Bringing that to Sault Ste. Marie and giving the Sikh community a chance to do seva, which is selfless service, for our broader local community – especially the vulnerable members of the community – is a great feeling, for sure,”

The One Billion Rising Movement 

The 'One Billion Rising' movement began as a call to action in response to the shocking statistic that one in every three women on the earth will be beaten or raped throughout her lifetime. With a global population of seven billion people, this equates to more than one billion women and girls as per Sharanjeet Kaur, vice-president of the Ontario unit of WSO. 

The president of WSO, Tejinder Singh said that the volunteers who organised this event worked tirelessly with the assistance of the community, but it was worth it when they hear about the tremendous response from individuals who get parcels in shelters. He further stated that they have also been taking the initiative to promote WSO's Sikh Family Helpline as an active resource for women and families who are victims of violence.

As a part of this great initiative, the Sikh community contributed greatly to the cause. It is a sheer representation of how Sikhs stand up and serve the community as and when needed.

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