This post was originally published on 20 November 2016.
An Indian-origin taxi driver in Australia has been selected as “Northern Territory Local Hero”, an honour which is part of the prestigious “Australian Of The Year Award”.
Tejinder Pal Singh has received this honour for the selfless service he has been offering to the poor and homeless people in northern Darwin.
For the past four years, Tejinder has dedicated the last Sunday of each month to feeding poor and needy locals of this area.
After a gruelling 12-hour shift driving a taxi, Tejinder spends five hours cooking in his kitchen, preparing 80 kilograms of vegetarian curry and rice, which he then serves as a free lunch from his van.
The free lunch that comprises of chickpeas, rice and vegetarian curry is entirely funded from Tejinder’s own income.
“My religion says 10 per cent of income goes toward needy and poor people — no matter [whether] they belong to your religion or any religion,” Tejinder was quoted in local media.
“I do something for homeless people, so they get more energy, so they’re happy,” he said.
His van carries the sign “Free Indian food for hungry and needy people, Provide Sikh family”.
According to The Times of India, after moving to Australia with his family in 2006, Tejinder fell victim to racial abuse while working as a cab driver.
However, without getting aggravated, he calmly told the abuser that just because his faith requires him to cover his head, it does not make him any different from other human beings.
He has now become an inspiration for many. Inspired by his work, three other groups in Australia have taken up the cause of distributing free food to homeless people on Sundays.
“One more step to making awareness about Sikhism and share thoughts. Thanks to teachers and future of my beautiful Australia,” said Tejinder on social media post.
Tejinder also found support from the Northern Territory’s chief minister Michael Gunner and Singh soon became a recognisable face who helped fellow humans. In 2014, he was also honoured as ‘Australian of the Day’.
The official website of the Australian of the Year writes: “Funding the feast each month from his own pocket, Tejinder attributes his generosity to his deep Sikh faith. His work has inspired three other groups to take up the cause to ute free food to the homeless on Sundays. And the hungry and thirsty come flocking when they see Tejinder’s van, emblazoned with the sign ‘Free Indian food for hungry and needy people'”.
Commonwealth Bank has sponsored the ‘Australian of the Day’ campaign for over 35 years, recognising extraordinary Australians who have made a big difference to the country.