Largesse from Khalsa Aid helps Yazidis, Christians survive in Erbil

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  1. parijataka

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    Largesse from Khalsa Aid helps Yazidis, Christians survive in Erbil

    AMRITSAR: A lone turbaned Sikh distributing disinfectants, fruits and medicines to Yazidis and Assyrian Christian refugees who have taken shelter in Erbil, Kurdistan, invites curious glances from everyone, making many wonder about the Santa-like man with a flowing white beard.

    Ravi Singh, CEO of UK-based Sikh charity Khalsa Aid, who headed out to the war zone to do his bit towards reducing the suffering of these displaced groups, is living the Sikh credo of sewa (selfless service) by doing whatever he can, be it arranging water or milk supplies.

    "The majority of these people don't know about Sikhs, only that they are of Indian origin," Singh told TOI over the phone from Erbil on Monday. "They are amused to see a turbaned man helping them when other turbaned men (ultras of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), who also sport beards, are killing them in cold blood."

    He has launched a relief mission to assist the fleeing minority communities being persecuted in Iraq by the ISIS. "We are working towards providing emergency aid in the form of clean drinking water, food items and shelter," he said.

    Singh said on his arrival in Erbil he found around 3,000-4000 refugees taking shelter in St Joseph's Church. They needed everything - brooms, disinfectants, bleach, milk - and he put together a network with the help of like-minded natives and began distributing rice and vegetables. "Today we distributed milk to the refugees," he said.

    After getting a phone call from a Swedish doctor about 70,000 displaced people in Duhok desperately needing water, Singh extended his stay in Erbil by another couple of days. "We will request the governor of Erbil and the officials of the private company that supplies water, and see what can be done," he said.

    Asked what inspired him to go to the war zone, Singh said: "Khalsa never turns its back on such atrocities. It is our duty as Sikhs not only to wish 'Sarbat da Bhala' (everyone's good) but to enforce it too in a place of need."

    Singh said his family was worried about his mission, but had got used to it. "They know our charity is needed in such places," he said.
     
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