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Sukhwinder Kaur: Westfield Local Heroes 2018

Top cook Sukhwinder continues to help feed 200 hungry people every week

The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Sikh Volunteers Australia to continue their work regardless of the elements. Serving food on hot or rainy days was a big challenge for the group, however, with Westfield's funding the organisation has been able to purchase a foldable umbrella to help them better serve the community. They have also purchased utencils and cooking equipment to ensure that they can efficiently prepare the quantity of food required on a weekly basis.

Sukhwinder Kaur is famous for her tasty cooking, but often it’s the quantity of food she makes that’s most important.

She spends at least 16 hours a week cooking meals for the hungry and goes out to deliver it every Wednesday and Saturday.

This has been her tireless routine for more than seven years as a member of Sikh Volunteers Australia.

The meals are distributed by the charity’s food van, which feeds up to 200 needy people a week.

But sometimes the recipients are in such dire straits that the volunteers buy them items from their own pocket. One man, in particular, shocked Sukhwinder. He told the volunteers that the food was good. But he also needed a tent because he was living in the bush, Sukhwinder recalls.

“I felt very sad. We bought him a tent and gave two or three containers of food to him.”

People often share their life stories with the volunteers, including one severely physically disabled man who came to collect containers of food to take home.

“One day he broke down and shared that he can't do much for his family but take food for them. Their stories give us strength and motivation to do more.”

The ever-smiling Sukhwinder is an effective recruiter and role-model for the charity and has inspired more than 30 other Sikh women to become "very active" volunteers.

She also spends her time teaching children the Punjabi language, heritage and music. She encourages the students to be community-minded and to speak up against bullying.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.

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