Written by Jade Ruston
When it gets down to being real, one of the greatest ways that all of us can live is via kind acts of service. It doesn’t have to be costly to your time or bank account to be successful. Whatever the act is, if it’s led with compassion, it will make way for an impactful difference in somebody’s life. For Jaswinder Singh, living a life of service is merely a day to day effortless lifestyle and has been the case since his first day on this planet. As an infant, Jaswinders family got him involved in their own volunteering activities, raising him with awareness and empathy for others situations, building faithfulness and teaching him from day one to recognise all living creations such as you, me, the tree across the road and the lady bug munching on its leaves, as one being that deserves equal respect and love. A tradition within sikh households across the globe that he now also shares with his 9 year old daughter.
Carrying these principles with him into adulthood on a raging path of good will that to this day, has lead him to be a prominent co-founder of the non for profit organisation Sikh Volunteers Australia which has taken the beautiful practice of Langar (free kitchen) out of the gurdwara and behind the wheel of a bunch of vans in Melbourne, Australia, successfully providing free meals (sometimes over 1,000 a day!) to those who need it most at the moment, no matter rain or sunshine.
Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15th century with heavy intentions of bringing people of all levels of society whether king or cobbler, to cook together and sit side by side one another, sharing that same food they had all participated in creating (Langar). In the gurdwara, this service runs 24/7 without fail and opens its doors to absolutely everybody regardless of race, religion, colour, ethnicity. The food is always free and vegetarian so it’s accessible to all of the above. Behind the wheel, this service comes directly to you. For instance;
-The recent floods that have devastated a large portion of the Aussie population in recent months. The volunteers were there.
-The bushfires that raged through mass parts of the country leaving people without homes. The volunteers were there.
-During the covid pandemic when nobody could leave their houses and many without financial income. The volunteers were there.
Around that multiple times during the week, Sikh volunteers Australia travel around different regions providing these fresh meals to anybody that rocks up in need, no questions asked.
“The people get the feeling that they are being looked after and they are being taken care of, the food is hot it has compassion in it and that’s what people in these desperate situations really care for.” Jaswinder explained.
Sikh Volunteers Australia acted as first responders on the scene, suited and booted to make sure that as many people as widely possible had access to not just a bowl of heated up tinned soup, but a warm, home cooked nutritious meal served with a smile which travels much deeper in the moment of need that you might imagine right now.
What began in 2014 as an initial 33 volunteers with humble intentions has now grown to a whopping crew of over 300! Mr Singh said, “The first step was very hard, no financial support, some of us were not even permanent citizens but we thought “what contributions can we make to our new society that we are living in?” Then it started”
Each member, with a strong vision in sight, each contributed $1,000 of their own salary towards the purchase of food trucks to get the ball rolling. Since then they have received overwhelming support in donations from the community as well as an award from Premier Dan Andrews for community harmony and a grant that will see this volunteer organization be able to upscale their production in a more permanent location for food preparation rather that out of the homes of their good hearted team members.
When probed about the beginning of the intention to perform such warm deeds for the public, Jaswinder humbly responded with some education on his faith, explaining three simple principles that Sikhs live by;
“The principles that I live my life around, all of us as sikhs develop our personality, develop our being and arrange our day to day actions/ lifestyle.
Kirat Karo Am I living with absolute honesty regardless of what my job is? No job is small or big. I could be a king or a cobbler, it doesn’t matter, as long as I am living with absolute honesty I am fulfilling my first principle.
Naam Japna It says that, imagine if I am a cobbler and in the holidays I have just $5. The second principle states that regardless of my state in life I should be thankful to Allah for the blessing. And to pay my thanks I will treat the whole creation that you have made exactly as I treat you. With love, without discrimination, without any flaws in my behavior. With the purity of love.
Vand Chakko Whatever I have, I must share with everyone. I could only have $5, not very much, but there could be someone without that, so my duty is to share it.”
When you put all of these things together, you see that whatever our organisation is doing, it is all revolving around these three concepts.
We are treating everyone exactly how we treat the lord. We are sharing everything that we have. This is how we run and is the easiest way for me to explain how and why we are doing what we are doing.”
Below are the consistent times and places around Melbourne Victoria, that you can access this service if you ever find yourself in need, or simply want to head down and experience the peak of human selfless kindness for yourself.
(As stated on their website at the time of this article)
Every Sundays (HASTINGS)
Fred Smith Reserve Car Park Hastings (1pm to 2pm).
Every Wednesdays and Saturdays (FRANKSTON)
Frankston Young Street Car Park (Next to Tasman Meat) (6.30pm to 7.30pm)
Every Wednesdays (NOBLE PARK)
Car Park Behind Coles Noble Park (6.00pm to 7.00pm)
You can go an pick up you own meal Every Wed, Thu, Sat & Sun. Free food (Tiffin Meal) for pickup from our base in Langwarrin, VIC. Pickup Between: 5pm to 6pm
AND/OR they offer a delivery service Every Thursday and Sunday to homes located in the 7 Council Areas. Casey Council, Cardinia Council, Dandenong Council, Frankston Council, Monash Council, Kingston Council and Mornington Peninsula Council.
Truly a nobel inspiration to the rest of us!