The Nerval family directs a number of community initiatives dedicated to uplifting individuals, providing relief and promoting a greater sense of community. These initiatives include Seva Food Truck and Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen.
Sikhs for humanity
Sikhs for Humanity was founded by Manjit Nerval in 2009. He was inspired to start the foundation after he lost a dear friend to liver failure after they were unable to find a donor for his friend.
Manjit Nerval came to realize that in Alberta, you simply have to sign the back of your health care card in order to be an organ donor and potentially save a life, and he was shocked that he hadn’t known this sooner. He figured that if he wasn’t aware of this, a whole lot of other people wouldn’t be either, and he was right. And so, the first campaign that he undertook with Sikhs for Humanity (SFH) was an organ donor awareness project. His success was limited to the support he received from his fellow community members, but he tried his best and delivered the information he found to as many people as he could. This was only the beginning of SFH; he had many other charitable pursuits in mind.
Today, SFH directs a number of different community projects, which are completely volunteer-based and humanitarian in nature. The mandate of SFH is to build community, especially with those who are less fortunate, and that is exactly what is accomplished through projects like Seva Food Truck and Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen.
Seva food truck
Seva (say-vah) is a Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service”. Seva Food Truck (SFT) is a charity initiative founded by the Sikh community to tackle the issues of food insecurity and poverty burdening individuals in the greater community at large.
SFT aims to provide services to individuals and communities without judgment, stigma or discrimination, through dignity and respect. Through the functions of “seva” and “langar” (pronounced lung-er; “langar” is the concept of free meals served to all, regardless of race, class or religion. It is a gesture of equality. The literal translation of the Sanskrit word “langar” is “anchor”, which is the purpose that the concept of “langar” ought to serve in the community; an anchor, which seeks to stabilize and vitalize individuals through a positive, egalitarian experience, and in turn vitalize the community).
SFT takes these concepts to low-income schools and neighborhoods in Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto. SFT is not only a meal program but a mentoring program as well. Not only do SFT organizers serve meals to at-risk children, they also sit down with the kids and share in the meals, so as to create a heightened sense of equality, and they engage with the kids in conversation, which is the first step to building long-lasting relationships founded on friendship and understanding. SFT has been in operation for 2 years now (est. February 2014) and has seen much growth since its inception.
To learn more about the initiative, please click here.
Guru Nanak’s free kitchen
Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen (soup kitchen) is a project dedicated to uplifting individuals, and in turn the greater community. It is a permanent soup kitchen establishment, to be completed late 2016, built to add some positivity into the lives of our homeless brothers and sisters.
The kitchen has been planned with sustainability in mind. It will consist of the kitchen & seating area on the main floor, with four rental suites above, the income of which will pay for the operation of the kitchen for years to come. It will be the first such establishment to call Edmonton its home. It will be located at 10919-97 Street, to be opened in Summer 2016. On behalf of the Sikh community, the Nerval family wishes to see this langar (free kitchen) program become a daily institution, the goal of which is to build community with the less fortunate, and also to serve as a means by which the greater community can come together and work in harmony.
Over the summer and into the fall of 2015, our homeless brothers and sisters in Edmonton’s inner city were blessed with langar on a weekly basis, served out of a tent, across the street from the Bissell Centre. This was done for the purpose of developing ties with the homeless population, as well as to corral the community’s support following up to the construction of the kitchen.
With a strong sense of community, a people are prosperous and well-respected in their homes, and their national identity is upheld by all. Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen will work towards promoting a stronger sense of community, through the functions of seva (selfless service) and langar (free kitchen).
To learn more about the project, please click here.