The Forgotten Sikhs
For years, SAF International has been working within Sikligar communities, helping to educate and uplift individuals that have been ignored and neglected by mainstream society. It’s a cause that is very near and dear to our hearts, because we know their story, their rich history, and the unimaginable hardships they have endured over the years.
The lasting impact of decades of mistreatment and the “criminal” tag given to the Sikligar community has held them back for too long. As a Sikh based charity, we felt that we had no option but to help out in any way that we could.
Several years ago, we decided to kick-start a community development project for Sikligar Sikh communities. The program initially served two communities in Madhya Pradesh (Pachori and Akash Nagar), and has since grown to include 4 communities including one in Gujarat and another in Andhra Pradesh. Within these communities, we have been providing basic home improvements, education, skills training, healthcare, and employment or income generation opportunities.
Through this on-going initiative, we hope to provide these communities with the skills and tools required to build a better life for themselves and to integrate seamlessly back into mainstream society.
Supporting Sikligar Communities During COVID-19
This year, with the global COVID-19 pandemic, we stepped up our support to help these communities during India’s nationwide lockdown. While the lockdown was necessary, it left many Sikligar Sikhs in an incredibly dangerous position.
As a community renowned for their craftsmanship, many relied on their skilled handy work as their one and only source of income to feed their families. Without access to sell their handmade items on the streets of India, they have no means of supporting themselves and their loved ones. Additionally, many if not all families have no savings because they have not been properly educated on how to save money/supplies for emergencies. This has left entire communities with very little to survive off of during the Coronavirus pandemic.
With no income and almost no savings, alongside the threat of potential police beatings if they were to leave their house, many Sikligar Sikhs were left with no option but to go hungry. On top of that, their hungry vulnerable state would have made them helpless against the virus, knowing that if it entered their community, little could be done to save them.
Fortunately, SAF International was able to lend a hand. We started a fundraising campaign for the Sikligar Sikhs, and within days we were able to get essential food supplies to families in need. To date, we have delivered over 12 tonnes of food including rice, dal, oil, haldi, mirch, salt and more to hundreds of families within the Sikligar communities we support.
Here is a quick overview:
- 41 Families in Vadodara, Gujarat
- 60 Families in Pachori, Madhya Pradesh
- 20 Families in Miryalaguda, Hyderabad
- 40 Families in Surat, Gujarat
- 26 Families in Satvas, Madhya Pradesh
- 4 Families in Bagali, Madhya Pradesh
- 10 Families in Kalapatha, Madhya Pradesh
- 55 Families in Akash Nagar, Madhya Pradesh
Delivering such a large amount of food across these communities during a nationwide lockdown was challenging at times, but it was something that needed to be done, and we’re incredibly proud of everyone involved for making it possible. Thanks to their selfless service and the generous donations from Sikhs abroad, many lives were saved.