Darwin taxi driver Tejinder pal Singh arrived with his family in Australia in 2006, from the Punjab region. He began working as a taxi driver, and not long afterwards he was subjected to a racist tirade of abuse while transporting a passenger. A man of Sikh faith, Singh was targeted by the passenger for wearing a turban.
Instead of being discouraged by this experience, Singh was inspired to break down the negative prejudice associated with turbans and increase awareness of his faith. “After that I started my mission of spreading awareness of Sikh identity and the Sikh principles of service and humanity, and here I am,” Singh told SBS Radio.
Singh believed the best way to do this would be to help the rising homeless population in his local community. The latest census figures show there are around 105,000 homeless people across Australia, and the numbers are increasing. In the Northern Territory, the problem is more acute, with over 700 people out of every 10,000 being homeless.
— Indian Eagle (@indianeagle) November 9, 2016
To help these people, Singh has dedicated the last Sunday of each month over the last four years, to feeding the needy. After his normal 12 hour shift driving a taxi, Singh prepares up to 80 kilograms of vegetarian curry and rice, which he then distributes for free from his food van. He funds the entire project completely out of his own pocket.
Singh’s efforts have been recognised, with him receiving the award for the 2017 Northern Territory Local Hero. His name was announced as part of the prestigious Australian of the Year series award on Tuesday. He now joins recipients from all other States and Territories as a finalist for the national awards, held today in Canberra.
For more information on homelessness in Australia and New Zealand, read our investigative piece here