Project Ghar Baahar aims to provide resources and sangat for those who are being held in immigration facilities due to their status in the United States. During what is an incredibly isolating and degrading process, our sevadaars hope to provide gutkey, dastaars, and other kakaars to the detainees while also organizing keertans at the detention facilities. We also collect clothing to be held at local gurdwaarey for the detainees to receive upon their release. Through this seva, we are inspired by the gurbaani of Guru Arjan Sahib Ji: Ghar Baahar Tera Bharavaasa Too Jan Kai Hai Sang. "At home and beyond, You, O Divine, are with your servants."
Statistics show that one of the fastest-growing populations of undocumented people in the United States is of Indians [1, 2]. Of this group, Punjabi men make up a significant amount of those leaving from India. Those aware of the various crises affecting East Punjab know that Punjabi men are leaving their homes by the thousands due to economic disenfranchisement and threats of opposing political parties. As of now, there is little to no formal research on this 'Punjab to ICE' pipeline. One of the goals of this project is to shed more light on systemic reasons that create the conditions due to which these Punjabi-Sikh men are left with no other option than to risk their lives as begin dangerous journeys along human trafficking routes from Punjab to United States. If or when the migrants reach the Mexico-California border, their journey typically includes several other stops through the Middle East, Central America, and South America.  Project Ghar Baahar implores the diasporic Sikh community to consider how this little-known reality of 'the Sikh experience' is part and parcel of the overall narrative on Sikh American settlement patterns and history.
This project's sevadars visited a detention center in November 2017 in Calexico, California and learned that than one-half of the detainees there were Punjabi men from India. That particular detention center houses over 700 individuals. As of January 2018, 355 detainees there are Punjabi men. These are statistics from only one detention center; there are hundreds of detention centers across the country . Our purpose is to serve by providing basic material items [see below] for detainees. Due to the strict environment at detention centers, Sikh detainees are not permitted to wear their karaas and seldom have means of acquiring dastaar (turban) cloth and reading materials.
From our initial group visit to a detention center in Southern California, we learned that detainees spend 20 hours of the day indoors in large, hostel-style dormitories that they are locked in. The detainees have the option of doing housekeeping and cooking work at the detention facility, for which they are compensated $1 per day. Those wishing to get in touch with their loved ones living outside of the U.S. spend $0.33 per minute of their $1 daily wage to call home. Some detainees are also being held in isolation. Activists and journalists have reported on the conditions under which detainees are kept, finding mass complaints of neglect of mental and physical health of detainees. There are also many reports of [attempted] suicide committed by detainees  , as well as cases of miscarriage among female detainees .
This project takes inspiration from the lives of the Sikh Gurus, as many of them were detained as political prisoners (such as Guru Nanak Dev Ji under Babur, Guru Arjan Dev Ji under Jahangir, and Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji under Aurangzeb). How does one continue to feel a spirit of Charhdi Kalaa and willful acceptance of detention as the Divine's hukam?
Project Ghar Baahar sevadars organize quarterly visits to detention centers all over California. A group of us who went to a Southern California detention center in November 2017 learned that the Sikh detainees there do not have many of the items they need for daily use, items such as dastaar (turban) cloth, gutkaas (prayer books), history and literature books, basic items of clothing toiletries they need if/when they are released from detention. The goal of this project is to provide these types of resources for those in detention and for those who are released. Due to legal constraints, funds from this project cannot be used for social work, and legal aid and representation for the detainees.
Our goal is to expand our volunteer network to mobilize and support more groups of sevadars to organize kirtan darbars, collect donations, and coordinate drop-off visits at detention centers elsewhere in the United States. We encourage people interested in carrying out this seva elsewhere in the United States to get in touch with detention centers in their locales. Funds from Project Ghar Baahar will be used to provide material and Sikhi support for detainees everywhere, not just in California.
Our initial group visit was in November 2017. Our next visits in the Southern California area will be in Spring and Summer 2018. We also have individual sevadars who visit detention centers in their locales on a weekly basis. Our goal is to have quarterly visits at various detention centers in California.
- Donor List
Original Donation Goal Reached
Thanks to generous donors from around the country, we reached our original funding goal of $5000. In order to prepare for the increasing visits we are making to numerous detention center locations in the coming months, as well as increasing demands as we are connected to more locations, we are increasing our goal to $12,000. As ever, this money goes towards buying dastaars, reading materials, clothing, and more essential items for detainees.
Three Visits & Counting...
The sevadaars have been working to create a network to support detained individuals across the state, connecting ICE facilities with local sangat members to distribute donations and funds. Until now, the following visits have been made:
Calexico: being scheduled for Oct 2018
Please continue to donate and spread the word!
|Daljeet Singh||$250.00||October 2018|
|Mandeep Singh||$500.00||October 2018|
|Kiran Kaur||$20.00||October 2018|
|G. B.||$20.00||October 2018|
|Satprit Kaur||$100.00||October 2018|
|Vikram Singh||$100.00||October 2018|
|Gud Kaur||$50.00||October 2018|
|HARDEEP Singh||$3,850.00||October 2018|
|M. V.||$100.00||August 2018|
|G. C.||$100.00||August 2018|
|S. C.||$200.00||August 2018|
|S. K.||$250.00||July 2018|
|S. K.||$100.00||March 2018|
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