United Sikh fundraiser for eye operations

DIAMOND BAR, CA: The eyes are one of the most precious parts of the body. Without sight, we would never see the faces of our loved ones, the beauty of a glorious sunset, a flower blooming, or works of art which are everywhere.
At an Indian restaurant in Diamond Bar, California, the United Sikh Mission held a fundraiser for its eye operation facilities. These camps offer free eye exams, spectacles, operations, medicine, and eye drops. Many people who were previously blind or had limited eyesight can now see. The mission runs 24 camps and in 2011, 13,515 people visited a facility, 8835 patients received eyeglasses, and 1605 operations were performed.
Asha Sharma, emcee of the event, congratulated the donors and sponsors and introduced Chief Guest Dr Amarjit Singh Marwaha. Dr Marwaha came to America as a dentist and is a professor at USC (University of Southern California). He stressed that it is the duty of the attendees of this event to help the underprivileged.
The first eye hospital in Sudharna was founded by him and is still going strong. Believing a good education is key, he also thinks the gurudwaras need to run these institutions. By donating money to these eye clinics, Dr Marwaha stated, “You’re giving light to people who can see you.”
Amit Gosain grandson of Satpal Gosain and former Health Minister of Punjab, welcomed all the guests.
Eminent cardiologist Dr Amrit Singh spoke about the satisfaction of seeing the happiness of those who regain their sight after being treated at one of the eye camps. His plan is to open an eye hospital in Punjab to serve more people. The cost of sponsoring an eye camp in India is $5,000 and it only costs $50 to pay for an eye surgery.
The eloquent Asha Sharma gave a speech punctuated by poetry and couplets. She addressed the substance abuse problem in Punjab and appealed to the Diaspora to fight against it and congratulated the United Sikhs for its efforts in this direction. She emphasized the United Sikh Mission: combating substance abuse, the well being of girls, and providing meals to the attendants/relatives of the patients.
S. Iqbal Singh Samra, businessman and philanthropist, mentioned the lack of media coverage of the work accomplished by the United Sikh Mission.
S Pritam Singh lamented the practice of some organizations which use up donated funds using the excuse of “overhead costs”. This means the recipients receive only 20-30% of the donations.
Baljit Kaur Toor enlightened the attendees with some interesting statistics regarding the Sikh community: Sikhs make up 2.4% of India’s population, and yet 33% of India’s income tax is paid by them, forty five percent of the army are Sikhs and 66% of charities are run and funded by the Sikhs. The Golden Temple is the biggest charity kitchen in the world. Over 25,000 people are fed daily 24/7. Indeed it is a dynamic community.
The last speaker was the documentary filmmaker, Michael Singh who showed his film about the eye camps. For several months out of every year, he spent time in Punjab, going to the deep remote villages, where he was asked to convey the needs of these people.
There was presentation of plaques and awards and the evening ended with music and dancing.

Lisa Zimmerman
India Post News Service

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