Refugees of a land “Together We Heal, Learn &Shine”
In December 2020 The United Nations Assembly adopted a resolution and declared 20th of June to be marked as Refugee Day. This brings to attention the happenings around the world where Migrant Refugees have found safe havens. The day focuses on raising awareness of the plight of refugees seeking refuge around the world.
The theme for the year 2021 is “Together we heal, learn and shine” acknowledging and recognizing the strength and courage of the refugees that have fled the conflicts and persecutions of their country in search of finding a safe sanctuary to live a better life.
This takes my attention to the Hindu Refugees that have migrated to India from Bangladesh and Pakistan in a struggle to provide safe residency, medical care and occupation for the family besides education and a place to play and run for their children.
In India the Pakistani migrants have become the stark reality of the ugly reminder of the partition of 1947. Many Indian families live to this day having grown up to the sad stories told by the elders and tend to empathize and understand the plight and resilience of these asylum seekers and have taken up the task of rebuilding the lives of these migrants despite the Indian Government’s efforts at habituating these hundreds and thousands of families.
The Sindhi Welfare Society, Kenya and the informal “Sanatan Dharam” group under the guidance of Kamal Tolia and Monica Gokaldas have been supporting one of these refugee camps by the name “Adarsh Nagar Refugee Camp” in Delhi. These dedicated members of Hindu Communities raise funds for education of the children by employing teaching staff and fulfill the timely needs at the camp by providing things such as rations, medicines, Tarpaulin sheets for the structures, stationary items, footwear, blankets ,water hand pumps, wheeled vending carts (as a source of livelihood) and a lot more.
A few individual Sindhi ladies have also helped lift off a Sewing Training Centre project called “Kenya Sindhi Saathi Sanstha Silai Kendra” whereby providing occupation to one of the refugees and providing the materials for the training Centre where refugee women get trained to the craft of stitching to gain employment and self-reliance. These ladies have often supported and contributed for inter camp marriages between the refugees who are either Sindhis, Guajarati or those from the Bheel community of Sindh district in Pakistan.
It is remarkable how the Hindu Community worldwide recognized the ‘Pandemic induced poverty’ that has caused a big socio economic crisis and jumped forward by helping up with medications, sanitizing materials, masks and oxygen cylinders and food provisions and are ensuring the safety and vaccinations of the refugee community . Kamal Tolia’s ‘Sanatan Dharam’ group has been remotely at the forefront providing support via its members based in Kenya, India, Indonesia, and United Kingdom.
Interesting is the contribution towards these refugee camps based in three major cities of India namely Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur. Besides 4 major camps there are some smaller camps in various regions the one at Jodhpur being the biggest camp which is supported by ‘Sindhi Heritage Foundation” who have obviously felt the anguish of these asylum seekers, the directors of the foundation being the ‘original refugees’ from the partition of India time. They foundation has arranged brick houses and cemented floorings to about 200 houses and provided Tarpaulin sheets and brick less houses to 400 families and are involved in procuring 20 water tanks of 5000ltr capacity and arranging vaccination via the Indian Government.
This proves that it is not only the governments, the United Nations but also small efforts of big hearts rendering humanitarian aid to the refugees by serving on their path to development, sustenance, occupational opportunities, funding and providing solutions to their various woes coming from the trauma of facing fanaticism and extremism. All this is done in an effort to boost mental, emotional and physical health and help the refugees gain confidence, feel welcome and induce friendships in the adopted land.