Wherever I go, I am asked why I chose to work for UNITED SIKHS. I was born and raised in America, have family with cut hair, and cannot speak Punjabi. So why do I even care?
My interest in public service has grown within me since I was a child; whether in the form of public speaking about a child's right to education in the 3rd grade, charity fundraising in the 5th grade, or collecting supplies for disaster victims in India in the 8th grade.
Then came the post-9/11 America, where nothing made sense. While I mourned with my country, I was also confused: Why was a local journalist at my gurdwara interviewing uncles about being "harassed"? Why were people at school bullying my friend who happened to wear a patka?
Did people really not know what Sikhism was? That Sikhs are not Muslims, and most definitely not terrorists? This idea, this thought, outraged me as I grasped for reason behind the hate and ignorance flooding the country.
For years to follow, I tracked Sikh issues and volunteered for Sikh rights organizations across the country. I learned that almost 57% of our youth are being bullied at school, TSA officials profile against Sikh men 100% of the time, and ignorance has driven hate crimes in cities across the nation. I did not have to be a victim or know a victim personally to be frustrated and believe change begins with me.
I developed a passion for advocacy and recognized the vitality of education. My pride in my religion and my need for others to understand its beauty fueled my career path and led me to law school. I wanted to be a lawyer to advocate for justice. People needed to understand the wonderful teachings of Sikhi -- the ideas of Ek Onkar, Chardi Kala, and Seva.
Our Volunteer team...
UNITED SIKHS is an organization filled with 2,000 passionate volunteers around the world. It's volunteers with demanding full time jobs, find time and choose to conduct Sikh awareness trainings at police stations, conduct Feed the Hungry projects to serve the underprivileged, join in community programs of health clinics and blood drives, who choose to fly to Kenya, Haiti, Philippines to help put together the lives of those impacted by natural disasters and so much more.
Volunteers finding Chardi Kala at every corner, every moment and every breath they spent on any project... A team so dedicated to our mission that personal commitments come second to advocacy, relief aid and community empowerment commitments.
I am blessed to do seva with a team who inspires and challenges my dedication and passion every day. I care when I see so many lives touched in so many ways by our team of paid staff and volunteers.
As Policy Advocate and Staff Attorney, I promise to do my part by fighting for your religious freedom every day at the nation's capital.
I hope you are able to share your dasvandh on the last day of this year.
The work we do would not be possible without you. I wish you and yours a happy and healthy new year.