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Byron Shire
August 9, 2022

Sikh volunteers feeding Lismore in time of need

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Sikh volunteers Manpreet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh handing out free food in Lismore, 7 March 2022. Photo David Lowe.

For the last week, a white van has been parking at the devastated corner of Keen and Magellan Streets in Lismore, serving delicious dahl for free to anyone who is hungry.

Manpreet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh are from Sikh Volunteers Australia Inc., one of two Sikh organisations who have travelled a long way to help the people of the Northern Rivers in their time of need. (The other group, Turbans 4 Australia, were away buying more food to distribute when The Echo was in Lismore.)

Lakhwinder Singh’s hi-vis says it all. ‘In the service of humanity’. Photo David Lowe.

The Sikh volunteers have been alternating between flood affected areas of Lismore and Evans Head since they arrived from Melbourne, having travelled via back roads to avoid underwater highways further south.

Manpreet Singh said they had been serving 1,500 meals each day. ‘You can see that people have lost everything but they are still strong. They’re very strong. And they are doing the hard work to create again that good town.’

Travelling legends

The duo are no strangers to helping out in emergency situations, having taken their food van to assist after the Gippsland bushfires and into flood affected areas of NSW following the last torrential rains to hit the state.

While they don’t need any assistance themselves, providing their own dahl ingredients, rice and drinks for all in need, they are very aware of what is urgently required for people trying to salvage the city around them, particularly cleaning assistance and supplies.

‘People have lost their business so obviously they need some financial help because they don’t have insurance,’ said Lakhwinder Singh. ‘The government are doing a bit but need to come over and help them.’

Another happy customer picks up a delicious free meal from the Sikh volunteers amidst the ruins of Lismore. Photo David Lowe.

During this interview, several grateful people came for free meals.

One woman offered a $100 donation and thanks on behalf of her mother who was especially appreciative of the delicious free food.

Love all, share all

For Lakhwinder and Manpreet, this is just part of what Sikhs do.

Their motto is ‘love all, share all’, with the welfare of the group placed above the ego of the individual. They have been very busy as wave upon wave of disasters crash on Australia and the world, having been running their current program since 2017 from Melbourne.

Ready for the next customer. Manpreet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh in Lismore. Photo David Lowe.

During the COVID peaks they fed enormous numbers of people. ‘In 2020 we delivered 140,000 meals,’ said Manpreet, ‘and in 2021 we delivered 129,000.’

He explained 90% of the food costs were covered by general public donations and their own community in Melbourne, with about 10% coming from government grants.

If you’re not in Lismore to try their delicious dahl you can keep up with Sikh Volunteers Australia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also find them on the web here.

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  1. That’s all I hear from around the world in the Alternative Media, “Sikh’s are great people”
    There’s nothing you can do to stop them either.
    They just keep being great guys, all around the world, everywhere you look.
    There has to be an A-hole Sikh somewhere in the world. I’m on a mission to find him.

  2. These guys were here on Day 1, feeding us, giving hope, showing care, compassion and great humanity, working hard for – unlike our own government.

    Go figure.

  3. What a great example these people set for the rest of the community. To think only a few months back little Joshy “Square pants” Friedenberg was ridiculing their religion on the floor of our Parliament with most of his Coalition party laughing along?


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