By Mayank Pathak
“Seva” is a word in Punjabi that means ‘Selfless Service’. It is a word that brings people together to become leaders in their communities by serving them. Serving the community as they are your family is a very important concept for the Indian, and more specifically the Punjabi culture.
My name is Mayank Pathak and for my Stretch Experience, I am currently volunteering with the Guru Nanak Foundation for Humanity (Edmonton Chapter) in a number of their projects that combine teachings of Punjabi culture to better the lives of individuals in Edmonton. The three projects that I have a hand in are as follows:
Seva Food Truck
The Seva Food (yum) Truck is a project that aims to offer lunch and mentorship. The service is essentially split into two parts. The first part being the food truck/tents that may be set up at locations depending on events in Edmonton. The main focus lies in the second part of the program where hot lunch is delivered to Spruce Ave and Calder Schools (most at-risk students in the city). Food is served to all students in an interactive fashion creating a much-needed connection for students, while also feeding the students. I am currently helping by attending sessions to serve students!
An extension of the Food Truck, this initiative helps students in gaining knowledge through workshops run by us! Our pillars are Finance, Innovation, Health, and Mindfulness. Our goal is to run workshops that relate to our pillars throughout the year. By doing this we let children be healthy, learn new skills, and most importantly we create a safe space for students to socialize and enjoy themselves. I have taken up the Health Pillar and will be helping in organizing workshops over the school year.
Guru Nanak Kitchen
The Kitchen that is currently being built on 97th street and 107th ave encapsulates another concept of Punjabi culture – “Langar”. A langer is essentially a free kitchen that is generally used to serve attendees in a Gurdwara/Temple regardless of religion, gender, economic status (etc.). This concept is being used for the new kitchen downtown and will be modeled not as a soup kitchen but as a kitchen where all are welcome to eat. Currently, I am working on the policies and procedures for the kitchen.
These programs are diverse and are attempting to help build community for areas in Edmonton that desperately need it. Our integration of Indian/Punjabi culture is giving individuals a new perspective on community building. If you have any inquiries or would like to help in any capacity please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.