WASHINGTON, DC—On November 13, 2014, the White House hosted Sikh community members from around the country in celebration of Guru Nanak Dev ji’s Gurpurab, marking the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak ji, the founder of Sikhism. Dr. Rucha Kavathe, Project Manager of UNITED SIKHS’ Community Education and Empowerment Directorate (CEED), was invited to speak to community members and government official attendees about our Affordable Care Act enrollment efforts.
UNITED SIKHS and Gurdwara Sant Majha Singh Karmajot Sikh Center, Queens, NY also organized the event’s langar, feeding over 100 community members in attendance. It was the first time that langar was served in the White House on Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurab.
The event also included important community briefings related to issues that are relevant and important for the community. Among speakers were Congressman Mike Honda, Ms. Tina Tchen (Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady), Mr. Harpreet Singh Mokha (Regional Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Department of Justice Community Relations Service), Ms. Alice Yao (White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islander) and members of other civil and community organizations.
Since the summer of 2013, members of the Community Education and Empowerment Directorate have been working diligently to provide much needed information and assistance as related to the Affordable Care Act. In New Jersey alone, UNITED SIKHS was able to reach out to over 4000 community members and provide enrollment assistance to over 350 community members in 4 languages.
Rucha emphasized the role of UNITED SIKHS and other community-based organizations in reaching out to the hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations. We are able to provide these services as part of local and national collaborations of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander organizations who are working to ensure that our communities are able to get services in language and in a culturally competent manner.
Participants also learned about other important issues such as the concerns around bullying in the community, presented by Rajdeep Singh from Sikh Coalition, and climate change presented by Dr. Rajwant Singh of Sikh Council on Religion and Education. The program closed with remarks from Indira Kaur from the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.