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War in Ukraine: How Khalsa Aid International and Ragus are making an impact on the ground
In February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the team at Ragus wanted to make a direct, immediate impact on the people affected. So, we extended our CSR strategy to include a third charity partner: Khalsa Aid International, an NGO who began to respond to the crisis in anticipation, a week before the war started. Because of this early action, Khalsa Aid International was able to establish teams on the borders of the five neighbouring countries of Ukraine within 48 hours.
When the war in Ukraine started earlier this year, our CSR strategy included two charities: a local organisation and a sustainability partner. But everyone at Ragus wanted to help the Ukrainian people – who were losing loved ones, homes and livelihoods at an ever-increasing rate – in the best way they could. As Head of CSR, my challenge was to find the right partner. When our commercial manager Frank O’Kelly told me about Khalsa Aid International – a local charity based in Taplow, who work globally – I knew I’d found it.
Khalsa Aid International: responding rapidly to disaster and civil conflict around the world
All Khalsa Aid International’s work is based upon the Sikh principle “Recognise the whole human race as one.” Their teams are often the first on the scene in disaster areas to help distribute food, water, clothing, medical and sanitation supplies. Through its global development programmes, Khalsa Aid International helps millions globally by providing fresh water, constructing schools and homes, and providing medical assistance.
Founded by Ravinder Singh, who was struck by the plight of refugees in Kosovo in 1999, the charity reaches out to all those in need, regardless of race, religion or borders.
Gurbir Kaur, a director at Khalsa Aid International, moved from her career in the corporate world to join the organisation. When I met her at their base near our Slough factory, I was instantly impressed by the picture she painted of Khalsa Aid’s work right at that moment in the countries bordering Ukraine.
“Indian students who were stuck in Ukraine and trying to flee to the borders called us,” she said. “We took over 1500 calls in the first week alone, many from the parents of those students. We called restaurant owners, volunteers, and transport companies in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova to see how we could help. Through local volunteers and organisations, we helped provide hot food to the refugees as they crossed the borders into Poland and Moldova.”
As well as emergency aid, Khalsa Aid International also creates and delivers development programmes. Based on the same premise of giving what’s needed, wherever it’s needed, the charity has teams right now in Madagascar building homes, and in Zambia and Malawi providing fresh water by installing water bore holes. “Instead of just providing aid, we try and sustain the local economy and the local people,” highlights Gurbir.
A powerful partnership: two local, yet global organisations
At Ragus, it’s our vision – and part of our strategy – to contribute to a better world in practical, tangible ways. Khalsa Aid International does exactly that, because they work with local, grassroots organisations who already understand the situation around them and know what they need to make the biggest impact, fast.
Our donation of £4000 to Khalsa Aid International contributed to the provision of food aid to the Ukrainian refugees. Gurbir says that for refugees coming over the border from Ukraine, hot, wholesome food was essential. “They were tired, cold and hungry, so we collaborated with the local community to make hot, nutritious meals for them. As the situation has developed, we have extended our support to the people in Ukraine.”
Because of the way Khalsa Aid works, we were able to choose the specific project we wanted to contribute to, and as a result, see the change it made in the world.
Aligning for the future
Gurbir says that Khalsa Aid International is a faith-inspired organisation, built on the principles of serving humanity and providing for the wellbeing of all: “Wherever there is suffering, we try to alleviate that suffering. Disasters don’t just happen on the news, they happen to people.”
At Ragus, sustainability is at the heart of our business because we want to operate in a fair, equitable and ethical world. We hope that by working with the right partners – whether that’s the farmers who grow our cane and beet, the owners of the mills and refineries we use or the charitable organisations we choose to support – we can be an example to the rest of the industry.
If you would like to support Khalsa Aid International and help expand their many projects across the world, please visit their website, khalsaaid.org.
Joining Ragus in 2017, Henry is the fifth generation of the Eastick family to work in the business. He has worked across our company, implementing plant and technology improvements in the factory to working in the lab developing a knowledge for our products. He focuses on our raw materials procurement as well as leading our digital transformation, adapting new technology and plant to meet our needs. His deep interest in nature and sustainability makes him a dedicated and passionate CSR manager.