Sunday, October 1, 2017

No Soup

Last week I volunteered at a soup kitchen. While I've participated in many types of volunteer work over the years, I have never been to a soup kitchen before. I first found out about the opportunity when I met a very friendly woman at the American International Women's Club and she encouraged me to sign up to help. The AIWC sends volunteers to the soup kitchen once a month. Only eight volunteers are needed each time, but as I signed up in August I made the cut for September. 

I walked about 25 minutes from home to a place called Jardin de Montbrilliant where the soup kitchen is housed. It's an interesting looking building and one that I had noticed before, but I was never sure what it was. 

We arrived at 8:45 a.m. and were put to work washing vegetables and fruit and making salad. Then, after a break, we helped set up all the food in time for the doors to open at 11:30 a.m. The soup kitchen serves 150-200 people over the course of one hour.  At 11:30 there was already a line of people waiting to come in and eat and people kept arriving until 12:30.

We served spaghetti with a red tuna sauce and optional Parmesan cheese on top, salad, fruit and a yogurt like muesli desert. There was no soup. The volunteers were given the chance to eat the food before people began to arrive, but I didn't try it. It did look very tasty though.

The door where people entered to get in line for food.

We were instructed not to let anyone touch the food and also that if anyone brought his own Tupperware and asked us to fill it (instead of taking a plate) that we could do so but to be careful not to let the serving utensil we were using touch the Tupperware. 

Five of us served the food, two washed dishes and one person was a runner bringing more supplies to us as we served. I was in charge of the Parmesan cheese which is ironic because when I eat pasta I load on the Parmesan like you've never seen. I spent the hour asking each person "fromage?"

Most of the people who came to eat were men. I think there were only five women. A few people looked like drug addicts but most were well dressed and if you saw them on the street you wouldn't think they would eat at a soup kitchen. There was no one who was dirty, smelly or tattered. I kept thinking about some of the homeless people I would see at traffic lights (robots) in South Africa. Sometimes, they were kneeling in the middle of the street, or would point to their mouths to signal hunger. Sometimes, they had no shoes or were missing limbs. In America as well the homeless generally look very rough. But here in Geneva the don't look so poor.  Food is very expensive here so it could be that many of these people do have jobs but just struggle to buy food. 

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.