Raunak Singh: the Sikh who leads relief work all over India
Growing up in a religious household in Cuttack Odisha. Singh was never too far from a gurudwara.
Raunak Singh, founder non-profit aid and relief organization Sikh Aid, has taken it upon himself to create a world that believes in equality and charity. Through Sikh Aid, he has been reaching out to various corners of the earth helping those in need and in turn rekindling people’s trust in humanity.
In today’s intolerant world where judgements are made based on one’s race, religion and beliefs, the crucial need of the hour is the promotion of love and revivement of our faith in mankind. Though this change in attitude cannot happen overnight, even simple acts of kindness can go a long way in attaining a world that believes in equality and charity.
The idea of taking the concept of langar in Sikh community kitchen to people or regions that needed it the most gave birth to Sikh Aid organization in 2017 in Cuttack, Odisha. Singh recalls the moment vividly as it was the during first wave of covid 19 in india when daily wage workers were travelling by foot to their homes due to lockdown.
Singh provided aid to them by providing them langar and drinking water.
Sikh Aid is based on the principals of sikh’a first guru , Guru nanak dev ji which is “Naam jaapo , Kirat karo , Vand chakho”.
In India, Sikh Aid has played a prominent role in providing relief to various areas hit by natural calamities like the Vishakhapatnam cyclone, floods in Jammu and Kashmir, and Gujarat earthquake, among others. “Over the last three to four years, we have developed a fantastic team in India,” says Raunak Singh CEO of Sikh Aid.
Though Sikh Aid is a small organization, with the backing of a large group of volunteers and generous donors, it has organized aid missions all over the India.
Raunak Singh provides a basic idea on how the missions work: Each mission comprises of a volunteer group or aid workers who undergo risk assessments to ensure they are safe when they are travelling. The organization gets access to local contacts like churches or mosques to get a clearer idea on language, cultures and sensitivities of the region. “Once in the country, the team spends days or months working with the local groups to make sure that what they do is effective. We share our experiences on aid work to enhance it.”
Funding comes mainly from All community; Sikh Aid does not receive any government funding. “About 50 percent is funded by the Sikh community from around the world. If it is a major disaster, then the gurudwaras step forward as well,” says Singh, adding that the organization has had a lot of non-Sikh supporters in india.
In the next five years, Sikh Aid aims to develop a larger team of staff and train more individuals and aid workers to do more operations. “Especially longer terms operations in development and education in places like Odisha . What I would like to do in India is health clinics for women and children so that women have the most basic health care. And in Africa, sanitization and water.” Says singh humbly.
In conclusion the selfless Sikh wants “people to follow in the footpath of Sikh Aid so that we build something around the world and give something to the next generation. Build bridges not walls, reach out without having any issues on faith, race or religion and be the humanitarian we are meant to be.”
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