Soup Kitchen Saturday, in Bangalore, India
Our first visit was all of five years ago, when our first grandchild was born. It was a shocker to see how many hungry mouths come to be fed. They are smelly, unwashed, homeless, with matted hair and filthy clothes, but the nuns open their gates and all are fed.
As they enter, they are given tokens which they hold onto and come in and sit down. They start filling seats from as early as 11am and just before 12 noon, the lunch comes in, carried by the caterer in huge handis and it is loaded on the table.
The servers which include the sponsors like us, start helping to serve and put out the plates on the table at the side. The plates line up and wait, steam curling up from them, all in readiness to be served, till sister incharge comes and says the grace.
Silence reigns and everyone bends forward and bows in prayer, while sister thanks the sponsor for the day and asks the hungry to pray. especially for them.
“ Thank you amma for the food,” they all gratefully say as the plates are distributed to them.
but even after that, each visit to sponsor and serve, pulls us up by the short hairs, to be witness to such depths of poverty and hunger. Sometimes there are whole families sitting there waiting to be fed. Little children who are served by us first and who come running for seconds, before the older people are even fed.
Now whenever my husband does a real estate deal, I ask the sellers or buyers to sponsor a meal and they readily agree, which is wonderful. Most often they are NRI’s who get Rs 100 to the pound or 60 to the $ and so Rs 5000/ is an affordable gift.
So now we have two lined up for two consecutive Saturdays. It fills our hearts to go and serve these hungry souls, for two hours on a Saturday afternoon. And the people who sponsor, also are happy to have made a lot of hungry people, eat their their fill of a warm and nutritious meal.
The sisters have amazing patience and even if all the food is gone and one poor person turns up asking for food, they never turn them away. Instead they will give them food,taken from their own lunch, cooked for the day. No one is ever turned away empty handed. No, they will not give money to those who come asking for some, as most often they will drink it away. But food, yes they ensure all get a meal.
Then the caterers who brought in the steaming dekchis, come and take away the washed and sparkly clean empty ones and collect their cash. They are paid Rs 4500 for the meal while Rs 500 goes for the bananas and Hermie brings curd ( yogurt) for the raita separately. For special occasions an extra round of cash is collected to buy them gifts.
This is an amazing initiative, which is so needed in our country, where there are so many hungry and poor and homeless people. Think of them when you want to go out and splurge on a meal for your birthday and instead help to feed 100 hungry. It’s a much better feeling when one does that, rather than pump up, already thickening waists that we have.
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