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Sikh volunteers drive 22 hours to feed Lismore flood victims

Sikh volunteers are delivering 1500 free vegetarian meals, bottled water and supplies to flood-affected communities in Lismore after driving 22 hours from Melbourne.

Members of Sikh Volunteers Australia (SVA) began driving from southeast Melbourne at 6am on Tuesday to arrive at the First Gurdwara of Australia in Woolgoolga on the NSW Mid North Coast at 4am on Thursday.

SVA spokesman Jaswinder Singh said the arduous trip had not been easy as Lismore was virtually isolated from the rest of Australia.

He said they had prepared 1500 meals of soy bean curry with rice in the Gurdwara kitchen on Wednesday morning.

"Soya curry is like a perfect balance of nutrition of protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients. We have been told that there is a food crisis from the last two days in those areas. So we want the people to eat healthy and get their energy back," Mr Singh told Australian Community Media(ACM).

In addition to food, Mr Singh said they will also be taking drinking water and essential supplies such as nappies and sanitary items on board their van.

Members of Sikh Volunteers Australia and their delivery van outside of the gurdwara in Woolgoolga, NSW, where they prepared 1500 meals on Wednesday morning. Photo: Sikh Volunteers Australia.

Members of Sikh Volunteers Australia and their delivery van outside of the gurdwara in Woolgoolga, NSW, where they prepared 1500 meals on Wednesday morning. Photo: Sikh Volunteers Australia.

Mr Singh said they decided to travel to Lismore after hearing Lismore and its surrounds was the most flood-affected area.

"We just wanted to support the community that is living there. We live in Australia and we consider ourselves a part of a big Australian community," he said.

"It is one of the foundations of the Sikh religion we share with everyone, whatever we have."

Mr Singh said he expects it to take four to five hours to reach Lismore as their delivery vans dodge flood waters to reach the destination - meaning the total journey could be over 24 hours.

"Lismore is a three-hour journey from Woolgoolga but that is when everything is clear. If we have to go through the backstreets or other ways which are still open and not affected with the flood, probably it will take more time," he said.

"We have requested the local communities to let us know which routes are open and which are closed and we are getting a good response from the local community members."

Although they are fairly self-sufficient they are seeking a commercial kitchen or well set-up kitchen facility to base themselves when they arrive in Lismore.

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The SVA spokesman explained the giving out free food is a Sikh religious practice known as "langar", which refers to the community kitchen of a gurdwara (a Sikh temple).

"It's a free food concept where everyone comes together, sits together and eats together. And that's how we're supposed to progress and break barriers between us," Mr Singh said.

Sikh Volunteers Australia has sent a fully stocked van north to provide free vegetarian meals for flood victims in Lismore.

Sikh Volunteers Australia has sent a fully stocked van north to provide free vegetarian meals for flood victims in Lismore.

"The only difference is instead of serving the langar at the gurdwara, we are taking it onto the vehicles and taking it onto the doorstep of the people in need."

Mr Singh said they will assess the situation in northern NSW on Wednesday and could potentially bring more volunteers from Melbourne to assist in food deliveries to Lismore and other areas such as Evans Head.

"We will stay as long as it's required," Mr Singh said.

If you can help, call Jaswinder Singh on 0452 601 734 or those who want to donate to Sikh Volunteers Australia can do so on their website.