Health

Traditional wisdom

When Manju Mandal left India for a new life in Canada, she brought with her a passion that inspires others to bridge the culture gap, too.

Manju’s life lesson learned:

Achieving balance in your life enables you to give freely to others.

“One more soup, please,” says Manju Mandal as she approaches the serving counter in her green apron. She tosses crackers and a soup spoon onto her tray while one of the kitchen staff dips an industrial-sized ladle into a kettle of steaming vegetable soup. The bowl filled, Manju hurries off to a table of hungry patrons. In this dining room the walls are bare, the cutlery unpolished, the tables set in plain rows. But during the dinner rush, people line up around the block for one of its three-course home-cooked meals.

At the end of her shift, when the soup bowls have been cleared away and the lasagna pans scraped clean, Manju won’t be carrying any tips in her apron pockets. She won’t receive a paycheque either. This is not a restaurant and Manju Mandal is not a waitress. She’s the founding member of a team of volunteers who call themselves the Helping Hands of Sudbury. Tonight, they’re providing meals for people in need downtown.

Manju has her own hands in all kinds of community projects, from Helping Hands to her work with Sudbury’s India-Canada Association. But Manju doesn’t just show up for duty, she brings passion and enthusiasm to everything she does. “She’s very giving,” says Tina Mandal-Lew, who nominated her mother as a Chatelaine Soul Model. “She tries to share and to give to everybody whether it’s at work, in the community or with her family.”