Today I was sorting through folders upon folders of images when I came across a pic which reminded me of an incident last year, before the website was up and running.
One of the men in our Witpoortjie soup kitchen queue approached me as I stood watching the volunteers serve bread and soup. He had been a regular for about two years and he always stood out because of the broad smile on his face, his spectacular cap and his blue guitar.
He took my hand and pressed something into it, closing my fingers around whatever it was. He said “Because you care too much. Too much.”. He shuffled back to his place in line.
Mildly bewildered, I eventually opened my hand to see what he’d given me. It was a R50 note.
I was utterly useless for the rest of the morning. I just sat in the car and let the tears slide down my face behind my dark glasses, hoping no-one would notice.
Such a gift, from someone who barely has a roof over his head, who limps because he has had a stroke and can hardly play his beloved guitar anymore because his strumming hand has seized into a claw, such a gift is gold.
From someone who can no longer hold down a job and is sufficiently hungry to have to stand in a food queue week after week, such is the gift of affirmation.
The gift of knowing I am reaching people.
The gift of recognition and the gift of love.
He brought his guitar the following week but was too shy to play in front of the crowd, instead he played and sang for us after we’d packed up. Once again there was not a dry eye in the car on the way home
Honestly, I don’t think there has been a single soup kitchen since I started where I have not experienced something new, unexpected or humbling. Not one.
If you’d like to join us at soup kitchen one Friday morning, do drop us a line, it is bound to be a lingering experience.