Coronavirus

This Sikh community group is delivering free meals to Australians in isolation

This Sikh community group is delivering food to people isolating themselves from coronavirus. Source: SBS News

Turbans 4 Australia is delivering food to people in Canberra who are isolating because of the coronavirus crisis.

At a time when we’re more isolated than ever, a Sikh community group is coming together to help serve those housebound by COVID-19.

Turbans 4 Australia is made up of volunteers who deliver hot meals and hampers of essentials across Canberra.

Paramdeep Singh Nrain is a coordinator for the group and came up with the idea after they offered similar support to people affected by this summer’s bushfires.

He started preparing meals from home, but with skyrocketing demand had to enlist the help of a local restaurant owner to upscale the operation.

Turbans 4 Australia coordinator Turbans 4 Australia coordinator Paramdeep Singh Nrain.
Turbans 4 Australia coordinator Paramdeep Singh Nrain.
SBS News

For Paramdeep, it’s just part of his culture, incorporating the three basic principles of Sikhism.

“Work hard, worship, and the third one is 'share your meal' - whatever you earn, you share it," Mr Singh Nrain told SBS News.

"I think we are living up to those principles.” 

Deliveries now go to more than 100 households in Canberra, with 15 volunteers juggling their full time jobs to cope with demand.

“We started doing this from my house,” Paramdeep said. 

“But the thing is, the number of people started increasing day by day so we reached out to the owner of Indian Pantry, Mr Sanjeev.”

Marilouise receives her meal from Turbans 4 Australia.
Marilouise receives her meal from Turbans 4 Australia.
SBS News

The meals, as well as the human connection, have been crucial to those self-isolating at home, like Marilouise, who has a weak immunity system.

"It has been an incredible lifeline for me and not just me, there are lots of other people out there who feel the same. It's been a lifeline for them as well," she said. 

It’s a lifeline that has restored her faith in humanity during what she calls a dark time.

"There are these people who have no idea who I am and have done nothing but show me kindness and made loving, delicious food," she said.

"These people are just wonderful.” 

While helping out the community is the primary goal, the volunteers are also enjoying educating others about their food and their culture.

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Gurvinder Singh Sandhu, a trained chef, is one of the volunteers helping to prepare the daily daal for delivery.

"We are cooking lentils and rice, it has a big, big background to our culture and our religion,” he said.

The meals aren’t just for the unwell and elderly either, with self-isolating families also on the delivery list.

“I did check with a couple of people where I delivered the food to see how they're enjoying it. They said they're loving it, their kids love it, which is great," Gurvinder said. 

Chef Gurvinder Singh Sandhu.
Chef Gurvinder Singh Sandhu.
SBS News

One of those converted is 12-year-old Mia, whose mother heard about the deliveries on social media.

"I don't really like curry that much, but this curry has actually made me like curry,” she said.

While the effort from Paramdeep and his volunteers comes naturally to them, they also see it as a way to thank Australia for welcoming them.

"We are the group of people who came as international students and now we are a part of the family … the Australian family,” he said. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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