The founder of a British-Sikh humanitarian charity has described its nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize as “humbling”.
Ravi Singh, CEO and founder of Khalsa Aid, based in Maidenhead in Berkshire, said the news was “very strange”, adding: “We never ever thought that we would be nominated, so for us it’s like we won already.
“It’s a very, very uplifting experience, more so for our volunteers because I’ve always said that what we are is because of our volunteers,” Mr Singh said.
“It’s a great acknowledgment of their dedication and compassion for the last 21 years.”
The organisation, founded in 1999, has provided aid across the globe, recently hitting headlines for providing hundreds of meals for lorry drivers stranded in Kent as a result of a French travel ban in December.
Canadian MP Tim Uppal put forward the organisation in recognition of its work providing food and aid in disaster areas and civil conflict zones around the world.
Mr Singh said the charity was “based on the Sikh principles of recognising the whole human race as one”.
“Every Sikh temple has langar, which is a community kitchen. It was started by our first teacher, Guru Nanak, about 600 years ago. Anybody can come and eat, you’ll sit on the floor, it doesn’t matter if you’re a king or a labourer, you eat the same food.
“It’s all about respect, equality and dignity for all human beings.”
The organisation has been providing meals to hospitals in the UK throughout the pandemic, as well as delivering aid, food and reusable sanitary products to refugees and people in need across the world.
“We were providing thousands of meals to about ten hospitals in and around London, every day 50 to 100 hot meals,” Mr Singh said.
“Now, as this other lockdown is quite serious, we started with about four hospitals again, providing hot meals every day.”
Khalsa Aid is looking to set up food kitchens and work with large food banks in the coming months, with Mr Singh saying that the organisation would like to help supply meals to school children from its food kitchen.
“Honestly I do dedicate it to the volunteers who are there day and night… everything we do is driven by our amazing volunteers,” Mr Singh said of the Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
“Our biggest achievement is not aid and everything we deliver, it’s the fact that there’s a whole generation of Sikhs around the world, if you ask them ‘do you know Khalsa Aid’, they will say ‘yes’.
“The whole generation has grown up tolerant, more humane, understanding, accepting.
“In the world which is challenging, with so much hatred, so much intolerance, so much fascism, I’m proud to say that we have raised a generation who are very, very tolerant, who are understanding, who are successful but humble.
“We’re very honoured that we can have the British public supporting us as well.”