Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jasvir Kaur: A Life Well Lived

Excellent article on UNITED SIKHS AID volunteer out in Haiti

Jasvir Kaur: A Life Well Lived

She is not a woman of complicated words, just simple actions.

I came across Jasvir Kaur towards the end of 2004, on a trip to Chicago where I was invited to speak at the IFCAPS (Institute for Conflict and Peace Studies) Conference - on the topic of Sikh women and their place in society today.

I had never spoken on a Sikh topic before and was a panthic newbie. There are not very many Sikh women who were then into research and public speaking. The few that were, were unavailable. Somebody pointed to me and my obvious reaction was - "I have never done this before".

My eleven year old challenged me: "You make me stand and speak at the gurdwara. It's your turn. You help me with my speeches; surely you must know something about Sikhi! "

I accepted.

I put in several hours of research, wrote my first paper on Sikhi and there I was, with my little helper to run the slide show.

When I was received by the conference hosts - amritdhari, dastaar-wearing bibis whose panthic resumes were longer than my paper, I was apprehensive to say the least ... I, who couldn't even recite the Japji without making mistakes.

I was wrong. Their gracious acceptance won me over: no judgments whatsoever. We all learned from each other, shared our journeys and passion for the panth. Laughed together, confronted the men who questioned equality and rued over the state of affairs ... sipping cha ... bonding ... till dawn.

When I left Chicago, I knew that our paths would cross again. But had no idea how soon!

As I got back, South-East Asia was devastated by the biggest tragedy of the century, the tsunami.

"United Sikhs" had smelled my "I'll-do-it" attitude and before I knew it, I was helping coordinate their first humanitarian mission. In recruiting volunteers, my Chicago connections came in handy and Jasvir, along with other Chicago friends, were en route to Mission Thailand.

Five years later....

Jasvir has recently come back from a two week stint in Haiti.

Even in the fewest of words, her stories always move me, as have her purity, consistency and willingness to serve.

Life for a disaster relief volunteer in the field is tough; especially for a woman. But she had always been ready to do what was asked of her. Never complaining of lacking creature comforts or about the chaos and anarchy that surrounds you. Always thankful with ‘shukkar' for the opportunity to serve and for the life lessons learnt.

It feels as if she goes to the disaster zones to feed her longing ... she readily admits that. She does not claim it to be her seva. She refers to it as a symbiotic phenomenon whereby she receives as much, if not more.

Read more:


Singh Style said...

C o o l ...

Sikhism . Karsewa

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