Calgary

Sikh community makes Valentine's Day care packages for women fleeing domestic violence

Volunteers with the World Sikh Organization have collaborated with the Punjabi Community Health Society to make Valentine's Day care packages for survivors of domestic violence.

Packages include handwritten cards, blankets, chocolate, toiletries and more

WSO volunteer Remneek Kaur, left, and other volunteers with Calgary's Sikh community, right, assemble care packages for women fleeing domestic violence. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Calgary's Sikh community is sending Valentine's Day surprises to women and children in need.

Volunteers with the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) have collaborated with the Punjabi Community Health Society to make Valentine's Day care packages for survivors of domestic violence for the past six years.

The packages include necessities such as blankets, grocery store gift cards and toiletries — and comforts like teddy bears, chocolate and handwritten cards.

Volunteer Remneek Kaur said the initiative is an extension of the WSO's involvement with One Billion Rising, a global campaign that seeks to end physical and sexual violence against women.

The care packages are put together and delivered during Valentine's Day, Kaur said, to remind women and children that they are cared for.

"That's the time that usually people show their love and affection and care for others, and women facing situations like this often don't feel like they might necessarily have that," Kaur said.

"It's just a way for us to be like, 'We care for you, we're here for you.'"

The World Sikh Organization runs the Valentine's Day initiative in cities across Canada, including Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.

Packages worth about $250

Calgary's Sikh community is showing love for local women dealing with domestic abuse this Valentine's Day. 1:34

Sarbjit Sodhi works as an intake administrative co-ordinator with the Punjabi Community Health Society, a non-profit that provides services for south Asian families dealing with addiction, domestic violence and mental health challenges.

She said the packages are a way of providing emotional and financial aid to those fleeing domestic violence.

"This is a huge issue," Sodhi said. "We need to support those people, we need to talk in the community.… This kind of gift, and especially on Valentine's [Day], it really supports them."

Each care package is worth about $250, and volunteers usually source funding from the community, Kaur said.

Approximately 20 packages will be assembled this year.

Calgarians dealing with violence can call 211, or the Connect Family and Sexual Abuse Network at 1-877-237-5888 for sexual abuse, or 403-234-7233 for domestic abuse.

With files from Hala Ghonaim

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