On 31 May 2023, UNITED SIKHS Programs Director, Hardayal Singh, won the prestigious International Sikh of the Year award at the 2nd British Sikh Awards 2023 held in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Aimed at recognizing extraordinary Sikhs and their achievements across various fields, the awardees are selected from among hundreds of nominations.
This award collectively belongs to every UNITED SIKHS supporter, donor, volunteer, & employee.Indeed, it is impossible to extricate his achievements from the collective, consolidated efforts of thousands of donors and volunteers who supported the beliefs and actions of the organization he helped found.Hardayal Singh (far right) with Ukrainian war orphans in Poland.A Step Back in Time
Back in 1997, a group of young, professional Sikhs – among them Hardayal Singh – banded together to serve the advocacy and socio-economic needs of marginalized communities in Queens Borough, New York City. The year 1999 saw the birth of UNITED SIKHS as a registered non-profit organization. Little did its founders imagine at the time that this was an organization destined to uplift millions of lives through its chapters across five continents.
The year 2004 saw our first large-scale humanitarian aid mission in which our volunteers set up langar camps and distributed relief supplies in India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami.
The years 2004-06 witnessed UNITED SIKHS legal teams secure several landmark victories related to the civil and human rights of Sikhs in France, Belgium, and the United States – shaping “International Civil & Human Rights Advocacy” (ICHRA), our then-nascent pillar of work.Spreading awareness about Sikh culture & identity has always been central to our ICHRA pillar of work.Our unceasing efforts through the years earned us recognition as a community-driven, humanitarian aid organization, facilitating our affiliation in 2007 with the United Nations, Department of Public Information (DPI) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The catastrophic 2010 Haiti earthquake prompted us to launch one of our biggest emergency aid missions. UNITED SIKHS provided 25, 000+ meals, gave shelter to 5000+ victims, built water treatment plants, and distributed medical supplies and clothes to thousands of survivors.Our expansive relief efforts in Haiti lead then President Obama to famously name UNITED SIKHS at the 2010 National Prayer Breakfast event.Our journey hit another milestone in 2017 when learning about Sikh Americans was introduced as part of the general curriculum for fifth and sixth graders in New York City (NYC) schools, following years of unrelenting efforts by UNITED SIKHS in collaboration with the NYC Mayor’s Office and NYC Department of Education.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic unleashed horrors of a nature and scale the world had neither seen nor imagined. In the midst of the melee of fear, disease, and death, UNITED SIKHS addressed the needs of the most vulnerable worldwide, serving 4+ million meals globally.While the world came to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, our activities saw an increased momentum – thanks to the rock solid support of our donors and the courage of our volunteers.In 2021, UNITED SIKHS readily stepped forward to rescue fleeing minority Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in the wake of Afghanistan’s Taliban takeover. We helped evacuate scores of families, eventually securing asylum for 141 Afghan minority refugees in Mexico – a result of months of intense legal advocacy.UNITED SIKHS volunteers with representatives from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs receive Afghan Refugees at the Mexico City International Airport.The 2022 Russia-Ukraine war triggered one of our largest humanitarian aid efforts.We distributed relief materials, set up bomb shelters, and launched a tactical medical program to train civilians to deal with medical emergencies.The year 2023 saw us launch Project Kirti in India, an employment-generating, poverty-alleviation program based on a UN Sustainable Development Goal.A Shared Honor
An act of kindness has a life cycle of its own – it begins with a feeling of compassion and ends with an action of courage and conviction. UNITED SIKHS’ countless humanitarian acts are but a result of the coalescence of the right intent – of donors – and right action – of volunteers.Young women volunteers with UNITED SIKHS.As you extend your hearty congratulations to Hardayal Singh, it is perhaps time you gave yourself a pat on the back! Because nothing UNITED SIKHS ever did would be possible without your support. We are honored to share the British Sikh Award with you!