By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE |
Keen to be part of Khalsa Aid or any such organisation? Start by doing seva (service) locally.
Keen to go on a mission with the UK-based humanitarian agency? Be warned! There is always risk involved when you venture into a disaster area.
These were among the messages Khalsa Aid CEO Ravinder Singh shared in his recent presentations in Malaysia and Singapore.
“When you’re packing your bag, one thing always goes in your mind: this could be your last mission. You never know what can happen in conflict and disaster zones,” he told a Sikh youth camp in Malaysia.
Ravi, as he is popular known, is talking from experience. Real, not virtual. He and his team have served in hotspots like Iraq, Syria, Kosovo and Myanmar.
“Emotionally, Iraq is the most draining,” he told an audience in Singapore. “This is the hardest (part) to deal with (in a mission).”
And the most difficult place to operate? Surprise, surprise – Punjab – homeground for Punjabis and Sikhs, the two most common denominators of Khalsa Aid volunteers.
“They [India-side Punjab authorities] are very suspicious of us. We get checked weekly,” he said.
In December, Ravi spoke at the annual Sikh youth camp of Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) called the Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan. Later, he spoke at the biennial Naam Ras Kirtan Darbar 2018 in Singapore.
In between, he had a number of other engagements, including a public lecture hosted by Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA).
A DAY IN HIS LIFE
On his typical daily routine, Ravi said it involves continuous phone calls and engagements with the office staff.
“I’m constantly in touch with our operational staff. We now have teams in Turkey, Lebanon….I need to ensure they are safe.
“My day goes on phone and talking to staff and communicating on the social media. Social media is important to connect with the (wider) community,” he said.
Ravi was asked how he manages the fame that comes with the job as he is constantly on the forefront and in the news.
“There are different types of fame. Its mostly about money (for some). Some tell us do seva quitely and don’t make noise.
“Truth be told – there is Khalsa Aid (the organisation) which does the work, there is the person who can get corrupted with attention and adulation.
“We want people to remain with Khalsa Aid, follow the idea, and not the individual,” he said.
On this point, Ravi had noted that Khalsa Aid has grown from the early days.
“For the last 8-10 years, there is a great team of volunteers and staff that make it all happen. Before it was just Ravi Singh running around,” he told the 800-odd psrticipants and sevadars of the Malaysian camp.
So, what inspires Ravi? He said his biggest role models are the shaheeds (martyrs) and sevadars (band of volunteers).
“Look around you – the sevadars inspire me; how they selflessly perform their duties.
“I really admire all the wonderful volunteers, no matter which organisation you belong to. The volunteers on the ground from every organisation are the real heroes.
“My inspiration also comes from the Guru – Guru Granth Sahib. There are no middleman,” he added.
CONNECT WITH THE YOUTH
On the youth, Ravi said they are eager to connect.
“They want to do something useful. Get them involved in local seva. Join in your local seva, no matter which group,” he said.
He noted that most youth have a gap in their lives which can be filled with seva (service).
“I encourage people to get involved in local seva. It’s about linking and doing seva. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do to.
“Go out and get started. You can do a walk or whatever. Join groups and start at the grassroot level,” he said. In the UK, he said many have joined the various Langgar programmes.
Moving forward, Ravi said that plans are afoot to start Khalsa Aid presence in Malaysia and Singapore.
On his hopes for the Sangat, Ravi said Khalsa Aid has become an institution.
“As a human race Sikhs have so much to give. You are the symbol of hope,” he said.
Khalsa Aid is about hope. You can bring hope to someone wherever you are.
“We don’t have to go far to do seva. We can do it right here at home,” he said.
Ravi, does publicity get to your head? (Asia Samachar, 17 Aug 2016)
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