More than two dozen people and hundreds of millions of animals have died in wildfires that have been raging in Australia since September. The blaze has razed almost 2,000 homes, leaving many with nowhere to go. To help the hapless victims, many organisations are working day and night along with the government of Australia. Towards this end, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh on Wednesday came across the news of a Sikh couple who are providing free meals and shelter to people severely affected by the bushfire.
Taking to Twitterthe Punjab CM praised the couple and said, "These little steps go a long way in restoring people's faith in humanity."
Captain Amarinder, in his tweet mentioned about the Indian couple Kanwaljit Singh and Kamaljit Kaur who are providing fresh meals from their restaurant to those affected by the disaster. They have been preparing simple meals of curry and rice for the victims in their Desi Grill restaurant in Bairnsdale in Victoria for the many five days as the bushfire crisis in the country worsened. "We are providing proper meals of curry and rice. We distribute the food at the relief centers as well as give to those who come to our restaurant asking for it," Kaur told PTI over the phone on Saturday.
"The situation is really bad. Initially there was less fire in the area but later it expanded. People have lost their lives, houses, farms and animals," she said. Victoria is one of the worst affected areas in the disaster. Other areas are New South Wales and South Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday called up 3,000 military reserve troops to combat the raging bushfire crisis which has so far claimed the lives of at least 24 people with high temperatures and strong winds threatening to worsen the conditions across the country. More than 14,000 hectares have been destroyed in South Australia's Flinders Chase National Park, Kangaroo Island.
Expressing concern over the situation, Kaur said that people had left their houses and were either shifting to relief camps or moving to Melbourne. The couple, who migrated to Australia over a decade ago, was earlier providing raw materials to Sikh volunteers in the area to prepare food for the affected people but later started preparing it in their restaurant. Even the shortage in staff in their restaurant has not deterred the Melbourne-based couple from helping those in need as they have roped in friends and family to prepare food for the victims as well as manage business hours of the restaurant.
"Most of the staff members have left due to the disaster. My family and friends are working in the restaurant," said Kaur, who along with her husband started the restaurant in Bairnsdale in 2016. She said that the loss in the area felt like "personal as we have lived here for seven years before moving to Melbourne."
"This place is like a small countryside area. We know almost everyone here and are emotionally connected with the people. So the loss is more personal," she said. "More than anything else, people have lost their memories as mostly old couples stay in the area and they had their farms and animals destroyed in the fire," she said.
(with PTI inputs)