Saturday, May 30, 2015

Selfless Volunteers of Religious Groups: Stories of Human Love

Hours after the earthquake tragically hit Nepal, religious groups from across the globe started arriving with relief material and volunteers. This help offered by religious groups of all denominations helped the local government to a great extent. The help of various governments and humanitarian organisations, like that of India, China, United Nations, etc was vital. But the help of selfless volunteers from religious groups was unmatched.

“It is very important to understand what is religion. What is the use of religion if there is no intention to help those in need? It is the message of all religion to help those whom you can.” said Kawaljeet Singh, information officer at Delhi’s Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. “There are bad situations in life, and then there are good situation. They both teach us to do good in life.” he added.

The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee has been sending raw materials everyday. Dharmendra Singh, manager at the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi, informed me that they were attempting to send meals for 25,000 people, “We were sending the cooked food through the government. But later we decided to send people from Guruwara to Nepal, and will be sending raw material to them every day. They are cooking fresh food for those who need assistance.”

The Hindu organizations from India and Nepal have also been involved in the rescue work without any break. “I was present here, in Pashupati Nath temple, when the Earthquake came. I was about to donate my blood in a blood donation camp that we had organised here. But just then a structure fell near me. And we all had to rush. Since then we are involved in rescue work. My life was saved here, in the temple. It was a suggestion by the god for me to help others in need.” said one Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh’s volunteer inside Pashupati Nath Temple, county’s most sacred temple.

Hindu organisations from India, like that of Baba Ramdev has been involved in the relief processes. As Baba Ramdev was also present in Nepal during the fateful earthquake, it gave him more reason to be proactive in helping those in need through his large volunteer groups.

Similarly, the Christian group Samaritan’s Purse disaster response team has been actively involved in rescue and relief work from the initial days. They are providing emergency shelter, food, clean water, medical care, and meeting other urgent needs for victims of the terrible disaster. The Samaritan’s Purse is an Evangelical Christian organization. Another Christian group, World Vision, known globally for the work they have been doing with child care are also involved in the relief effort. The group has committed itself to help 100,000 children in worst hit areas in Nepal. The organisation has been active in Nepal for quite some time with 73 ongoing projects all over Nepal.

Presently Nepal’s population constitutes 80% Hindus, but a significant portion also belongs to other religions. Nepal is the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, founder of Buddhism, one of the most important global religions. Because of the Buddha connection, there are many international Buddhist organisations present in Nepal. At least 12 Buddhist organisations are involved in relief work.

One of the Buddhist spiritual leaders, Lama Phakchok Rinpoche, has come forward from Hong Kong to raise funds through his network of followers. In his appeal to his followers, he has written, “We are contacting everyone to start a fundraising campaign to support those in need. The immediate concern is of course first aid relief, however, after an earthquake there are not only the immediate needs of those injured, there are also concerns of food, water, shelter and months of re-construction. A team of professionals and volunteers is being formed now and they will inform us what is needed specifically. In the meantime, we can begin by raising funds now! Let’s put our compassion into action.”

Religion is known to us for numerous conflicts it has given rise to. But, if because of it hungry people are able to eat, and get a bed to sleep during the chilly nights, one must welcome the positive aspect of it as well. Hopefully more organisations come forward to rebuild Nepal. The key word will always be ‘selfless’ help, without any hidden agenda.

The article was written for LokMarg and The Emergency (a temporary portal to report from earthquake hit Nepal). It was published on May 14, 2015

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