By Manpreet Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s Advocacy Intern for Summer 2009.
I attended the Hemkunt Foundation Speech Competition in Los Angeles this past weekend, where I spoke about the Sikh Coalition’s work on the Sikh Right to Serve campaign. My hope was to inspire some of the participants to take action in support of the campaign, as Angad is doing in this video.
Over the summer, I’ve been saddened to see the lack of drive in college age individuals to make a difference. During the Sikh Coalition’s DC grassroots week, I handled a lot of behind the sceens outreach and communication. I realized that people have a tendency to back out of volunteer efforts as quickly as they sign up for them. An example? Well, on one of the days, we had five community volunteers confirmed. By 8am the day of, I had heard every health-related excuse possible.
As a community, we need to realize that community outreach is essential to the success of any campaign. A perfect example of community outreach is shown through the efforts put forth by community members in order to get Anna Eshoo (CA, 14th District) to sign on to the congressional letter to Secretary Robert Gates. Upon telling a Sikh Coalition member that she will not be signing because none of her constituents have shown interest, community members took it upon themselves to prove to her that they do care. Over the next few days, Anna Eshoo’s office had received dozens of phone calls and in-person meetings asking her to support the campaign. By the end of the week, she had informed the Coalition of her support.
If congressional representatives continue to believe that we don’t care about our rights, imagine what the means for the future of Sikhs in America? We cannot get the congressional support we need without the community’s support first. As a college student myself, I understand that school work takes a lot of our time, but is it that hard to send a simple email or make a five minute phone call? This is our future we are playing with. Lets change it now before it is too late!