Article Via: Ilford Recorder
A volunteer of Gurdwara Singh Sabha spoke to a local newspaper on the difficulties of serving aid in the Earthquake hit country of Nepal.
Manjit Singh, 38, of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha, in High Road, Seven Kings, visited the country for two weeks with charity Sikh Relief, travelling to areas hit hardest after the initial quake killed more than 8,000 people.
Manjit volunteered alongside Isher Singh, of Ilford Lane, Ilford, but the pair found their efforts on the ground were severely affected by the army.
Manjit said the army restricted where Sikh Relief could distribute aid and any food, clothing and building materials used for the relief effort were taxed.
He added: “I think the government was the problem. People were charging silly money to rent vehicles.
“They were long days we spent out there. We would get up at 5am and we would not get back until 11 in the evening, but it was worth it, just to be able to help people.”
“I went to make a difference,” Manjit, of Dagenham, added. “I raised funds for the Kashmir monsoon last year but I did not go out and actually visit the country.
“I could have stayed [in England] and just given money to the relief operation but I wanted to go out there and make a physical contribution.”
Manjit, who paid for his own flights, said it is part of his Sikh faith to help others.
“For example, our faith tells us to give 10 per cent of what we earn to charity.
“I feel really pleased that I went out there. I could have stayed a bit longer but I had to come back and work.”
On one day, according to Manjit, the Sikh Relief team helped more than 1,000 people.
Sikh Relief is now focusing its efforts solely on one village, Dhada Gau, 25km away from Katmandu, to ensure relief goes to the people who need it most.
The village lost nearly 80 per cent of its houses in the initial earthquake on April 25 and the second one on May 12.
Manjit, an operating manager on construction sites, has helped coordinate the building of houses in the country with Sikh Relief.