Myanmar Sikhs making themselves count

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| Mandalay, Myanmar | 11 Aug 2015 | Asia Samachar |
Myanmar Young Sikh Aid volunteer Jay Singh on the ground - PHOTO MYSA
Myanmar Young Sikh Aid volunteer Jay Singh on the ground – PHOTO MYSA

By HB Singh

A small band of Sikh businessmen and doctors in Myanmar have come together to provide assistance and medical in the wake of the country’s massive flooding woes.

Badged themselves as the Myanmar Young Sikh Aid (MYSA), they aim to collect funds and oganise manpower to help as many people as they can.

They have set up base at the gurdwara at 80th Street, Mandalay. Here, they pack food and other relief items to be dispatched out.

Since 1 Aug, they have got themselves registered with the Myanmar authorities and launched a Facebook page (search for Myanmar Young Sikh Aid) to communicate with the wider world.

“We are just doing from the bottom of our heart. We give every single minute to them for helping,” MYSA Facebook page editor Harleen Kaur tells Asia Samachar in a telephone conversation on late Sunday evening.

Do they have prior experience in such work? No, she replies. But they are determined to do their bit to help their countrymen in dire need of help.

“Most of our members run their own businesses. We are doing this [volunteer work] merely to help our people in distress,” said Harleen, a second year civil engineering  student in Myanmar, a volunteer herself.

As of Aug 10, more than 100 people have died and nearly one million people affected by the flooding following weeks of torrential rain, according to state media.

There is much work that needs to be done, and MYSA is joining the many other agencies and relief outfits offering assistance.

Their story reminds the way Global Sikhs came about in the wake of the 20045 tsunami that hit hard Aceh, Indonesia. A group of Sikhs in Malaysia then had huddled together in Kuala Lumpur to form a relief outfit which was named Global Sikhs.

Khalsa Aid, a UK-based Sikh relief outfit, has joined forces with MYSA which is based in Mandalay, some 700km into the mainland from the coastal area which has been hit hard by the monsoon rains.

Some of the volunteers taking a group photo at the 80th Street Gurdwara, Mandalay. The gurdwara acts as the home base for the MYSA volunteers. - PHOTO MYSA
Some of the volunteers taking a group photo at the 80th Street Gurdwara, Mandalay. The gurdwara acts as the home base for the MYSA volunteers. – PHOTO MYSA

Since formation, MYSA has raised funds, both internally and from abroad, to send out relief teams to affected areas like Pwint Phyu (632km down south from Mandalay) and Hakha in the Chin state (about 450km west of Mandalay).

The teams have also covered villages like Khone Zaung, Ma Taw Ghone, Pauk khone, Kyin Ghone, Kan La, Se Daw village and Ghu Gyi.

Another UK-relief agency, United Sikhs, have also sent out its team to Myanmar to assist in the relief work.

MYSA was ‘officially approved’ on Aug 4, according to their communication via the Facebook page.

As at Sunday, MYSA had managed to raise K23 million (Myanmar currency is called kyat. US$1 is about K1,232). “We have received about 235 lakh so far. We also had some pledges from the UK and Thaland, but have yet to receive the money,” she tells Asia Samachar. That is equivalent to about RM73,000 or S$25,800 or US$18,700. The group is updating the donation list on its Facebook.

The work on the ground is daunting simply due to the sheer scale of the disaster.

We leave you with one MYSA update on Aug 6: “Thanks for the all [donors] who helped us to donate villagers who is badly suffered from flood area …. They are really worry all the house are still in the water, part of familes are still in that affected area, and parts are now coming on the road to receive donated food, they don’t have nothing left everything gone in water. Water had been hit their villages since 29.2.15 and still on that place. God bless them, may flood not hurt their life.”

Myanmar Young Sikh Aid doctor inspecting patients at one of the villages - PHOTO MYSA
Myanmar Young Sikh Aid doctor inspecting patients at one of the villages – PHOTO MYSA

FOR UPDATES, SEE FACEBOOK PAGE: Myanmar Young Sikh Aid

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

 

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