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Sikh Congregation That Made 800 Meals For Stranded Lorry Drivers Says It Was 'Entire Community Effort'

Sikh Congregation That Made 800 Meals For Stranded Lorry Drivers Says It Was 'Entire Community Effort'

The Gurdwara (Sikh congregation) responsible for making hundreds of meals for stranded lorry drivers has said it's ready to dish out more if needed, referring to the operation as an 'entire community effort'.

With many lorry drivers currently stuck in Dover due to border closures, international humanitarian organisation Khalsa Aid teamed up with Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Gravesend yesterday (22 December) to distribute 800 free meals.

Drivers are now able to leave if they test negative for coronavirus, but severe delays remain.

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Speaking to LADbible, Jagdev Singh Virdee, General Secretary at the Gurdwara, said it had been a huge team effort, praising the work of Gurdwara President Manpreet Singh Dhaliwal, and Ravi Singh, founder and CEO of Khalsa Aid.

Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend
Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend

Jagdev explained that Khalsa Aid had been in contact with Kent Police to see if they could do anything, explaining: "Then they got in touch with us just before midday yesterday, asking if we could help with food provisions for the lorry drivers.

"So at the Gurdwara we quickly got together some volunteers, who cooked all the food and packed it within less than three hours."

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The food then got picked up by Khalsa Aid and taken to Dover to distribute to the hungry drivers.

"It was an entire community effort," Jagdev said.

Gurdwara President Manpreet Singh Dhaliwal, and Ravi Singh, founder and CEO of Khalsa Aid. Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend
Gurdwara President Manpreet Singh Dhaliwal, and Ravi Singh, founder and CEO of Khalsa Aid. Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend
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"We also had the National Sikh Police Association, which has members in all police forces, who helped make links with Kent Police for a police escort to actually take the food all the way past the lorries and so on, to where it needed to be.

"So it was it was very much an all-round effort between various organisations."

While others may have stepped up to help out today, Jagdev said the Gurdwara is more than willing to do more if needed.

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"We've said we're available if more is needed," he said.

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"Because from my understanding there are about 3,000 lorry drivers stuck there, and I think Khalsa Aid have taken about 1,000 meals. We're on standby if any more is needed.

"I've been in touch with Kent Police as well, saying if there's any need then to let us know."

Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend
Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend
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The various parties have been heaped with praise on social media after rallying together in such little time.

But while Jagdev said it was good to know their work was appreciated, helping the community isn't something that's a one-off for the Gurdwara.

He continued: "At the Gurdwara we're fairly well equipped to produce food at a large scale. It's part of our Langar service - Gurdwaras have a Langar, which is like a community kitchen where everybody cooks and eats together.

"Everybody's welcome to join that, and it's part of this concept of Wand Ke Chakna, which means to share with others who may be in need.

"So we're always geared up - during the first lockdown for example we were delivering to vulnerable people and to the NHS. We delivered about 64,000 meals altogether, so at the peak it was about 1,000 meals a day."

Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend
Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend

In fact, it's not just the community close to home that many Sikhs are reaching out to at the moment, with Jagdev using the current farmers' protests in India as the 'best example' of Langar.

He said: "Farmers are protesting because of changes in the laws there which are taking away farmers' rights, so there are hundreds of thousands of farmers who have been protesting and camped out around Delhi.

"While they're protesting, they've also got this Langar going - they're feeding not just themselves, but actually the poor around Delhi, and they're running classes and teaching them and so on.

"We're actually helping out there as well as much as we can for their efforts."

Featured Image Credit: Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend

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Jess Hardiman

Jess is a journalist at LADbible who graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Film Studies, English Language and Linguistics - indecisiveness at its finest, right there. She also works for FOODbible and its sister page Seitanists, which are both a safe haven for her to channel a love for homemade pasta, fennel and everything else in between. You can contact Jess at [email protected]