First Time Volunteering at Jakara Juniors

When it comes to doing Seva, my only experience has come from helping my mom in the kitchen for Langars. Being able to reach out to our youth while helping them understand the events that took place in 1984 was an enlightening experience. The day started early where we got the kids T-shirt’s, nametags and gave them an opportunity to wake up with recess. We then split up the kids by age considering the graphic nature of what took place. Gagan, Gurneel and I took a group of older kids and did a quick shabad activity where they had to interpret what the excerpt meant to them. We then read several pages from the publication, Kristallnacht. After lunch and an epic water balloon fight, we had majority of the kids watch a movie on 1984 which was followed by a PowerPoint presentation. The day was filled with so many different emotions from elation to sadness. The most interesting part was to see how the kids felt and responded to specific stories and pictures of 1984. Personally, I learned and gained so much from this experience and look forward to working with Jakara to start a MISL chapter in the Stockton area. I appreciate all the other counselors for being so welcoming and being there for the kids. We must not forget our youth and help them on their path to righteousness. Andy Singh is an active member of Misl Sacramento and is helping start Misl Stockton. 

Understanding What We Say

I would not have the knowledge of my Sikh religion and Sikh history that I have today if it weren’t for the counselors at Jakara. I did not begin learning about Sikh history until I was old enough to fully comprehend the atrocities that occurred in 1984. Just as I was educated about Sikhi through my older sister and my counselors at Lalkaar, I believe it is my responsibility to educate the next generation. While leading a workshop with 6-7 year olds I heard many of them chanting “A Nation Never Forgets” as they were completing a coloring activity. I interrupted to ask them if they knew what exactly we are referring to when we say “A Nation Never Forgets.” The response I got was a room full of little children staring at me blankly, and a few children shaking their heads. I realized the kids hadn’t made the connection between what they were learning and with the slogan they were chanting. I proceeded to tell them what the statement on their shirts was referring to. I helped them understand that to forget is to give up your opportunity to learn from the powerful history we share because after all, knowledge is power. Remembering one’s history is the first step in expressing one’s agency in making change. Although many of the young children that attended Jakara Juniors could not fully grasp the severity of 1984, they are learning what it means when we say “A Nation Never Forgets, ” and what it is that we will never forget. Rather than blindly repeating a statement, they now have some idea of the concept of 1984. It is our responsibility to educate the next generation of our Sikh history, and the environment that Jakara provides with its kids camps makes it possible for us to reach the youth. Anjum Kaur is a freshman at San Jose State University studying Environmental Justice. She has been an active volunteer in the Bhujangan and Juniors programs at the Misl Bay level as well as a participant at Lalkaar since 2012.

From Camper to Counselor | Jakara Juniors

I have been attending Jakara camps since the age of 9. Now being 17 and having the opportunity to become a counselor has allowed me to grasp the themes of our camps in an entirely different way. As a counselor I aim able to ensure every single kid goes home with enough knowledge to share with others as well as making it a priority that our campers leave with a sense of self-confidence, sangat, and fun. My first experience as a counselor has opened my eyes to truly see the importance of these camps held for the kids. Some walk in without any background knowledge of the theme, and being able to fill their minds with stories, shabads, and details of what is being taught is something I am extremely fortunate to have accomplished.Overall, this experience is one I truly cherish and certainly will continue doing as the years go on. Being a member of the Jakara movement has expanded the way I communicate with people, has immensely improved my social skills, and has made me an even more committed Sikh.Isherpreet Kaur is a member of Misl Sacramento and has been part of the Jakara family for many years. 

An experience that changed my thinking

The second time I participated in feeding the homeless I got to learn things and participate in a type of seva I really wanted to for quite some time. The first time I did this in September it was more of a project and a new learning experience in which we got to explore. We had to know what we were doing and explain it to other members in the community to raise awareness for the sacha sauda meal and collecting clothes. This Sunday afternoon all volunteers gathered at the West Sacramento Gurdwara to prepare a complete meal to serve to homeless people in downtown.  I was very excited to do this because the first time I did this, it felt great and inspired me to do more.  At the Gurdwara we all split up for different tasks such as making salad, cutting fruit, and cooking pasta. After the meal was prepared, we took it to Downtown. As we got there, this lady who was sleeping on the sidewalk, jumped up and said “ you guys the food people?”  Seeing that excitement on her familiar face felt very heart warming.  She was also wearing the clothes/ suits we donated last time we went. We first set up a table and served there. We all stood in a line serving them from hand sanitizer to food.  We then walked around the area to, to look out for more people. I got to see where they slept and the conditions they lived throughout.  They all were very thankful even if it was just one meal.  It felt sad seeing them this way, but it felt to me as If I really cared, and that we should do this more often.  Each time I feel we can make a small difference even though it’s not everything but it is something.  Seeing the happiness on their face was a feeling that I personally felt couldn’t be felt in any corner of the world I went to. This experience might not seem that big but it made me think back to the basics of a real normal life, and how in life today we find happiness in materialistic things instead of through other people and being thankful for what we have. Jit Kaur is a junior at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep High School in Sacramento. She is an active member of both the Sikh Honor and Service Society and Misl Sacramento. 

Fun & Games at Sports Day

After the tremendous success of the first Sports Day in Fremont it was time to move down to the South Bay. We arrived at Fowler Creek Park early at 9 so we could reserve the grass area we needed for our activities. As we finished coning off our area and taking our snacks out, other MISL members started trickling in with and soon parents arrived with their children. The kids were eager to play so we started setting up a soccer field  while they played around amongst themselves. We had two of the youngest participants, a boy and a girl, choose the teams to make it a little more fun instead of having one of the older MISL members deciding. Eventually the teams were decided and we began our game of soccer. We had to add people and take out others because folks started getting tired or we had people showing up a little late. With participants getting tired we decided to move on to a different game: kickball. Initially we were thinking about doing baseball but decided that kickball would have been something that could get everyone involved. This time we mixed it up and had 2 of the older MISL members choose teams to make it a bit more even. After letting everyone from each team kick we decided to end our Sports Day with a little game of tug of war. After a couple rounds with different teams we had all the kids go against two of the older MISL members. Needless to say the kids won.

An Amazing Experience | Sacha Sauda Meal Sharing

Giving back and understanding the homeless was a great opportunity. Working at the 2 gurdwaras, West Sacramento and Pell Drive Gurdwara was amazing. First, by talking to the secetaries and asking for permission was really interesting because we got to know how the process worked. It was also an opportunity for me to explain this event. As I started to make the banner and flyers for the event I wanted it to be something that would catch people's attention. My peers (other volunteers) really helped contribute to the poster. We got pictures from the last event and enlarged them to add to the poster. Also, Gagan (one of the volunteers) used her amazing art skills to design the flyers. The first Sunday we started, the secretary announced the event and lots of people came to our booth. People asked many questions and showed lots of love by donating and by blessing us to go further. I left 2 boxes at the gurdwara so people could donate clothing any day of the week. Also, there was a poster that included info about our event. Every Sunday and Wednesday I would rush to the lobby to check on the donations. It would make my day when we saw all the donations in the boxes. Slowly as the weeks passed we got larger boxes to keep the donations. Working at the gurdwara was amazing because it helped me to be more open with people. During the event on September 13, 2014 everyone was excited to see what we had accomplished. Thank you to Palvinder and the amazing volunteers who helped contribute to this event and all the Sevadars that helped donate. Manpreet Kaur is a junior at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep in Sacramento, CA. She is a member of the Sikh Honor & Service Society and Misl Sacramento. 

Adhhaara 2014

My experience at Adhhaara was truly unforgettable. Being new to Jakara, I wanted to gain insight and advice on how to organize events for Misl MO. Everyone was extremely welcoming, and I immediately felt a sense of community. The weekend consisted of a series of workshops and group activities that refreshed our thoughts and sparked our creativity. I learned a great deal about almost every aspect of organizing an event, from tabling at the Gurdwara to planning Lalkaar. Also, the Diwans reconnected the group every morning and evening. There was a mutual understanding that did not need to be spoken of, which I really appreciated. The appropriate infusion of Gurbani throughout the weekend was another example of this. The weekend began with a “theme” shabad, which we were reminded of each day. I cannot wait to begin planning future Misl MO events, as well as organize Lalkaar Midwest with Misl MN. I hope to attend Adhhaara next year with a variety of events to speak about, and to learn from my Jakara community! - Gurpreet Kaur, Misl St. Louis

Misl NJ: Widow Colony Screeining

Hosting its’ first ever event, the Misl New Jersey, brought in a close gathering of Sikh and non-Sikhs alike. The screening of “The Widow Colony” followed by a question and answer session with Harmeet Singh, one of the team leads in the production was an unique experience. It allowed participants to engage with one of the producers and allowed for greater insight into the thought process of how to showcase the struggles of the widows.Fighting for justice and struggling to survive in India, The Widow Colony takes an in-depth look into the lives of the widows from the 1984 Sikh genocide. Thirty years have past since the cruel injustice and plight of the Sikhs whom were brutally murdered in government sponsored pogroms. Read more

Giving Back | Sacha Sauda Meal Sharing

The homeless service event was a successful one. We started off the day by going to the gurduwara at 9:00 and sorting out the donations. The clothes were separated by gender and age group. With the help of all of the volunteers we got done in about an hour. Next some people went to help out with making the food. We made spaghetti and cut fruit. At 11:00 we started to load thedonations and food into the cars. Twenty minutes later we left to go to downtown. When we arrived the table and the supplies were set up quickly. People saw us and asked what we were doing; we told them about our plans to serve the community. They were familiar with this because the individuals mentioned "Indians" doing this before. A line started to slowly form at the table and the homeless were excited to get food. They brought along their friends and family to get free snacks and clothes. Most of the individuals were grateful and kept thanking us. It was nice to know we could give back to the community we live in. Bisman Kaur is a student at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep. She is a member of the Sikh Honor and Service Society and Misl Sacramento. 

Turban Tying Event

Jakara Movement Misl MN with help from Sikh Society of Minnesota, SALDEF and Surat Initiative had a booth at the State Capitol grounds on August 16th. With over 20,000 people in attendance the booth spread awareness about Sikhs by tying Turbans on over 300 people. This was all possible because of the amazing volunteers and Waheguru's kirpa (God's blessing). Those who got their turban tied said on multiple occasions that the moment the turban was tied a new sense of pride came from within (even if they didn’t know much about Sikhi). Our volunteers taught the many guests of the event who Sikh's are, the importance of the 5 articles of faith along with discussing  Turban Myths and misconceptions of Sikhs. Many people were impressed by the uniqueness of Sikh culture and left with vast knowledge. They gave a lot of respect to the volunteers who were already "naturally" wearing turbans even more, by calling them "Sardaar ji". Sikhs of Minnesota were very grateful to participate in this celebration promoting Sikh awareness which was never done here before at such a high scale.  Read more

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