Home-grown charity expands to feed more homeless people

(ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson) ABC Radio Darwin

By Jesse Thompson, Adam Steer and Shanelle Miller


November 06, 2017 15:39:20

Tejinder Singh and his wife Gurpreet Kaur rely on their van to deliver hot meals to the homeless.
Homeless rate in NT dwarfs national average
(ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)
With the Lions Club now committed to the idea of taking the reins on the fourth Sunday, Mr Singh said he might one day look to doing a delivery run on Saturdays too.”The people are saying that they look forward to getting the meal every weekend,” Ms Kaur said. (ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)
Ms Kaur said in the same period, demand had continued to grow.”We started with 50 people and now sometimes it’s 270, and still people are demanding more,” she said.”Sometimes it’s up to 300 meals.”

The Singhs’ shed is filled with large items of cooking equipment. “It’s very nearly 100 kilograms of food; it takes five or six hours to cook. “So it’s good for the community, it’s good for local people and good for my faith.”Over the past five years, people involved with the project have organised a circuit of 45 stops to deliver food. “After that I pack all the eskies, so it’s a very big job.”

Mr Singh flies a Nishan Sahib when he drives the van, a Sikh symbol of welcome-ness. (105.7 ABC Darwin: Emilia Terzon)
The task of feeding so many of Darwin’s needy is not always easy for Mr Singh, who occasionally works through the night as a taxi driver before hitting the kitchen.”We cut onions, cut potatoes, prepare everything at night time,” he said.”Early in the morning I start cooking, maybe at about half past five. Photo:
Mr Singh traces a circuit of 45 stops through some of Darwin’s most disadvantaged areas. Tejinder Singh and Gurpreet Kaur have an open door policy for their home and vehicle — if you are helping Darwin’s homeless community, the assets are yours to use.Since 2012, the couple has dedicated the last Sunday of each month to loading up their van with homemade rice and chickpea curry, then delivering the steaming hot meals to people sleeping rough.Their effort has prompted two other groups to come on board — a community group of about 20 people in 2015 and then, over the weekend, the Lions Club.The grassroots operation now has three out of every four Sundays covered.”The majority of the community in Darwin knows that we have an open invitation for people to use the van,” Ms Kaur said.”They can use anything from our house if they want to come and help the homeless people.”

Mr Singh hands out free Indian food from the boot of his van. “My religion says 10 per cent of your income should go to community support,” he said. (ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)
With extra hands now on deck, the Lions Club yesterday delivered meals to about 90 people who may have otherwise had to go hungry.Racist incident prompted pivot to food, faithMr Singh, an Indian migrant, was motivated to start making meals for the needy after one of his taxi passengers made a racist remark in 2012.In retaliation, he undertook a passion project he hoped would familiarise Darwin with his Sikh faith.
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