The Sikh community has long used the tranditional concept of langar to not only serve food to visitors in gurdwaras, but have also extended their service outside its premises to help those in need. The community has now taken their concept of community kitchen to the conflict-torn region of Syria.
A group of Punjabi NRIs have tied up with locals to provide around 14,000 refugees in the region with food everyday for several months now, reported The Times of India.
Langar Aid, as described on the group's Facebook page, "is a project by international humanitarian aid organisation Khalsa Aid to support its work on providing humanitarian aid in disaster and war zones.
"They are "located in the Pesh Harbour area, about 35 km from the Kurdish city of Duhok and 10km from the Syrian border," states the TOI report .
Since IS fighters were destroying food which was sent for the Yazidis, Langar Aid started a bakery with the help of Khalsa Aid, Joint Help for Kurdistan, and the local government in Duhok.
â€œThe idea is to take the langar outside the walls of the gurdwara and share food with people who need it the most," Indy Hothi, an economist and volunteer told TOI.
Ravi Singh, CEO of Khalsa Aid said that refugees often mistake them for the IS "because of our appearance", but that has not stopped them for continuing their work.â€œI 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," he told the newspaper.
Langar Aid also runs a school for nearly 5,000 local children on the Lebanon-Syrian border.