Now or Never

Sisters start youth movement to feed Winnipeg's homeless

16-year-old Simryn Singh was volunteering at a soup kitchen with her 12-year-old sister Jasmyn when they noticed kids their age in the lineup. So the girls created a charity and are bringing food to homeless people every chance they get.
On cold winter evenings in Winnipeg, you can find the Singh sisters - and a group of friends and peers - handing out food to the homeless. 0:41

Simryn Singh will never forget the moment she realized how privileged she was.

She was volunteering at Winnipeg community kitchen Agape Table with her younger sister Jasmyn. They noticed kids their age in the lineup.

"When we were about to leave, there were kids who were coming in to get food," said Simryn, now 16. "That resonated with us because it means they were not actually going to school and getting an education like we were."

So the girls created a charity under the banner "Langar Seva," which is based on principles from their Sikh faith.  

"Langar means a free meal and Seva means selfless service so we're bringing those two things together," explained Simryn.

These are some of the young people handing out food to homeless people on the streets of Winnipeg. (J. Ventura)

You can hear 12-year-old Jasmyn's passion in her voice: "We want everyone to get something, because not everyone has what we have. No one should be trying to look for food, because they have the right to have food." 

On this cold December day there is a limited amount of donated food to hand out: 96 burgers and 100 slices of pizza.

Simryn Singh's backpack is full of burgers to be shared with those in need. (J. Ventura)

What started out as something to do with family and friends has grown in a very short time. Three of the kids now helping out came to them through Facebook. 

"Jasmyn and I are in the centre of this," explained Simryn. "Now there are so many other kids involved. It's a complete group effort so that everyone has a chance to do everything. It's fully youth-led."

"There are people maybe staying in this parking lot tonight so it really opens our eyes," Simryn continued. "We go home, we lie down with our blanket ... not everyone has that comfort." 

"I've gotten hugs that I've never gotten before," exclaimed Jasmyn. "My parents give me hugs but this was like a whole different thing."

Jasmyn Singh gets hug after sharing food with homeless man in Winnipeg. (J. Ventura)

Ultimately, the Singh sisters would like to see their Langar Seva project become a registered charity, which would give them access to grants. This would enable them to grow and do more.

"We're proud that we're raising awareness because we should start now before this gets worse," said Jasmyn.

Handing out food to Winnipeg's homeless. (J. Ventura)