SEWA – Selfless Service of others
That is what a group of UK volunteers from the Namdhari Sikh community is planning to do in June this year. Amongst them is Satnam Flora, Principal Architect at Stephen George + Partners’ Leicester office.
On the June 7, Satnam with 11 other volunteers will leave the UK for northern Kenya, where they, along with 12 other volunteers from Nairobi, will distribute some 400,000 litres of water and 40 tonnes of food to drought affected villages in desperate need of such basic supplies.
“The people are in dire straits,” explains Satnam. “They have been living with drought for over four years. No water means no crops, no livestock, no food. A £10 donation in the UK will buy enough food and water to feed a family of four for up to 7 days.”
Donations in the UK raised the money to buy water plus flour, maize and beans – traditional foodstuffs in the region – in Nairobi. These will be distributed by a fleet of trucks and tankers – donated by the local Sikh community in Kenya – to villages beyond the capital.
“The first village is some six or seven hours’ travel from Nairobi, across rough and difficult terrain,” continues Satnam. “From our base there, we’ll be able to distribute food and water to other communities in the area.”
In addition to difficulties created by the harsh terrain, the volatile political situation in the region makes it necessary for the convoy to be accompanied by security personnel at all times.
This is the second delivery organised by the East Africa Famine Appeal charity this year. In May, some 30 tonnes of food, and over 400,000 litres of water were delivered. The long-term plan is to provide the local community with a borehole for wells, water pumps for fresh water and solar power panels to enable them to be self-reliant.
Satnam sums up: “The desire within me to help those in need has been encouraged from an early age – one of the key beliefs of Sikhism teaches this duty of service to others. I see this opportunity as a blessing as I have been given the means to do something that will directly help those in need. I initially became involved with the charity through my local Gurdwara where early discussions were held on the dire situation in East Africa, what the key issues were and what we could do to help. We are now able put these plans into action!”
If you would like to help with donations, or to volunteer for the next convoy, please go to http://www.namdharisikhs.co.uk/, or text SEWA to 70660 to donate £10.
This is what Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs, told the security council in New York on Friday 10 March 2017.
“Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations [in 1945]. Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine.”