‘Punjab’s generosity is now in Australia’: Migrants' support for bushfire victims wins hearts

A group of volunteers from Melbourne who camped in Bairnsdale for sixteen days to feed the victims of East Gippsland bus...

Members of the Sikh Volunteers Australia, a Melbourne-based not for profit, swung into action on the New Year’s Eve, as soon as they heard that people were being evacuated due to the fires spreading to residential areas in East Gippsland. 

“They called me at eight o’clock in the night, they were already on the road bringing some hot food down and wanting to know where to go. They were at the refuge centre by 10 o’clock where we had the evacuated communities. They served right through to quite late that night,” Leanne Jennings, CEO of Bairnsdale Neighbourhood told SBS Punjabi.

The volunteers were serving anywhere between 800 to one thousand meals a day at the peak of the Victorian bushfires in the first week of January, when thousands of people were evacuated.

“This was a lot of meals for our community and certainly that was helping the people that were there – giving them that nice, healthy alternative of vegetarian food but it was also the kindness of everybody as well, the understanding and the compassion that was showed by the crew,” Ms Jennings added...

...While some people may have been surprised to see these volunteers camping out to help people for over two weeks, Ms Jennings said she fully understood the spirit behind this.

“Actually, I went to Punjab a year ago and I stayed with a family in Bathinda. There I saw the generosity of the Punjabi and the Sikh community have in their own country,” she said.  “That generosity that’s there in Punjab is now here in Australia.”

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