Coronavirus: Sikh community in Australia working overtime to help needy
The Sikh Volunteers Australia group is helping people around Melbourne’s outer suburbs who are struggling to access groceries, by delivering free food to people’s doors.
As Australians continue hoarding essential food items and other supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged his countrymen to stop panic buying as many supermarket shelves across the country are stripped bare. But amid the coronavirus hysteria, there is a group called -- Sikh Volunteers Australia group – which has begun offering free food with home delivery services to those in need.
“We have to do it, because people need it,” the group’s Vice President, Manpreet Singh, told Insight.
“When you go to the shops and you see people grabbing the toilet paper from each other and fighting over the toilet paper I think it’s better to give something positive to the community rather than the negative.”
Australia reported 709 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with 5 deaths.
In the present alarming scenario, elderly and many others are struggling to get their hands on basic necessities due to mass hoarding. The country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the mass panic buying as “not sensible”.
“It is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis... It's ridiculous, it's un-Australian, and it must stop," he said.
Australia's major supermarket chains have also pleaded with customers to be considerate of each other and stop abusing staff. On social media, many movements are encouraging people to look after the elderly and others who may be struggling.
For the past three years, the Sikh Volunteers Australia group has been offering free food services for the needy and disadvantaged twice a week. But in the wake of the outbreak, the members have not only added an extra night’s food service to their regular schedule, they also decided to deliver food to people’s front door.
The group’s Vice President said that they began receiving calls from seniors in the community afraid to leave their house, from single mums, and those who had returned from overseas and were in isolation, all desperate for food.
Some even disclosed to the members that they had been diagnosed with coronavirus and were in lockdown, reported SBS News Australia. So, the group decided to put a post on their Facebook page offering the free food home delivery service for two weeks which began on March 18.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Manpreet Singh said. “We’ve had too many calls to count.”
Singh said the volunteers are making sure they don’t come into direct contact with anyone who has the virus, and are leaving food at the door for those they know are sick and notifying them when the food has been dropped off.
In this uncertain time for Australians, Singh is encouraging the community to rally together. “Instead of thinking only of our families we should think about the community,” he said, adding: “In a time of crisis we should help each other.”