Sikhs all over the world are known for their generosity and kindness. They are also known for this thing called ‘Langar’, these are communal free kitchens that are open for the people in need. Khalsa Aid is one of those organisations that have been providing aid in many disasters in the form of their project Langar Aid. Giving a twist to the concept of langar, a group of Punjabi NRIs have collaborated with locals to provide fresh bread to nearly 14,000 refugees daily in the strife-torn region for several months now.
Langar Aid, an extension of UK-based NGO Khalsa Aid, is located in the Pesh Harbour area, about 35km from the Kurdish city of Duhok and 10km from the Syrian border. Almost 70% of the members of Langar Aid have Punjabi roots, besides some European volunteers as well.
Instead of the classic kitchen, Langar Aid set up a bakery because IS fighters were destroying any food coming in for the Yazidis. While Khalsa Aid provided the machinery, Joint Help for Kurdistan gave a new building to house the bakery and the local government in Duhok is providing free power.
Refugees often mistake us for IS because of our appearance,” said Ravi Singh, CEO of Khalsa Aid, but that not deterred this unique force, reported Times Of India. “I was there about two months back and it was a very overwhelming experience. It was poignant to meet a family that had fled from their homes with their 10-month old child and they were pleasantly surprised to find aid in the middle of nowhere. Then there was an elderly lady who still wanted to return to her village she had built after years of hard work. The situation will get more challenging as winter sets in.”
On the other side of Syria, on the Lebanon-Syrian border, the organization is helping refugees by running a school of 5,000 local children.