Sunny Duggal: Leading a massive community effort to collect and deliver daily essentials for the bushfire-affected

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When people were still reeling with the shock of the recent bushfires, this Indian real estate entrepreneur was already on the way to help.

“Your availability is more important than your ability.” Inspired by these words from his gurumai Sant Nirankari Mandal Aust Inc’s Volunteers Incharge, Sunny Duggal jumped straight into action to drive supplies of food and other amenities to the affected areas of Sale, Bairnsdale, Orbost Mallacoota and Lakes Entrance.

“What started as a single trip to drop off some urgently required milk, water, cereal, toothbrushes etc, became a full-on movement with the support of some wonderful people and organisations,” Sunny told Indian Link as he described his experience.

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He has been delivering supplies in Bairnsdale Fire Relief Crisis Centre, Freemasons Hall Bairnsdale, Masonic Hall Lakes Entrance and Desi Grill Indian Restaurant. Sunny was supported by multiple organisations like the Sant Nirankari Mission, Mental Health Foundation Australia, Global Organisation for Divinity, (Namadwaar Melbourne) and Indian Australian Community Cooperation Inc (IACC). He visited the bushfire-affected areas with the assistance of other volunteers like Bhagyanathan Authimoorthi, Anchal Mahajan Meshram, Varan Freestone, Vasan Srinivasan, YakshSharma. Praveen Kumar, Vinit Gora, Narinder Kheri, Sarabjit Singh, Deep Dhir, Adarsh Kumar, DK Tuli, Kamal Rai, Mandeep Dhami, Amit Singh and Philip Tan. Sunny’s wife and children also pitched in.

“It was like driving into a war zone,” said Sunny delving into the details. “It was straight after New Years and the weather was bad; there was so much burnt land and property with ashes and smoke everywhere within sight. People were waiting for someone to come and drop off much needed basic necessities at that time. Initially I just took a car and trailer load, then someone offered their truck, another offered more supplies and before we knew it we had a hall full of essentials,” he said. Moved by the spirit of the people Sunny described an incident when he was driving past a place near Nowa Nowa in Gippsland. A lady came to collect some groceries she required urgently. He observed how she collected only one of each item that was necessary despite the fact that the local grocery store had burnt down.

“She could have easily taken the whole lot if she wanted but she only took what she needed and left the rest of others who may need it more than her,” Sunny recounted. “I was touched by her grace and dignity under such difficult times.”According to him people who had lost everything were also helping him and other volunteers.

Sunny recalled how during one of the trips his heart was warmed by the look of pure joy in a little boy’s eyes when he saw the bottles of water that were being distributed. That family and many others had ash sneak into their drinking water and taps, leaving it far from potable.

Initially, with no previous bushfire experience, Sunny did not know what to expect nor did he know what exactly needed to be done – he just felt compelled to help. “We live here in this beautiful country and spend so much time and money on ourselves. It’s times like these that we get an opportunity to give back to the community. So instead of going on our annual year-end holidays we stayed back to help. ”For this 2009 Knox City Volunteer of the Year Awardee, volunteering has always had a real and positive effect.

Kudos to this man for his tireless efforts.

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Preeti Jabbal
Preeti is the Melbourne Coordinator of Indian Link.

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