Shida and I ready to serve 🙂
On December 21, 2014 I took part in The Feeding of the 5000 with fellow Bongo Crew members Rashida and Denni. This has definitely been my most meaningful experience to date and I look forward to participating in the years to come. Jordan Bennett’s Feeding of the 5000 is a charity event that aims to provide meals to the homeless and the shut in. The group’s mantra is “Not just filling bellies, but hearts and souls with love.” and by the end of they day I certainly felt the love.
Feeding took place the day after Live from Kingston. I got home at around 2am and had the hardest time falling asleep because the excitement of the day’s activities had left my heart pounding. I dosed off a couple times but I didn’t truly fall asleep until what felt like minutes before my alarm went off. I hit the snooze button repeatedly until about 6.55 when I could no longer put off getting up. I showered, ate breakfast, got dressed and was out the door to meet Rashida at the bus stop at around 8.15. The goal was to reach 2B Grafton Road by 9am and we got there at 9:05.
Why were we early? This is Jamaica so, to be early one should arrive 2 hours late. Lesson learnt. My sleep deprived bum could have gotten at least an hour more of sleep. Anywho we were already early so Rashida and I tried to make ourselves useful. We posed for pictures, helped fold donated clothes and taped boxes while we waited for the buses that would transport us to the various locations to arrive. It was a long wait. For some reason or another the buses were ridiculously delayed. In the meantime buses arrived from the Golden Age Home delivering elderly citizens.
It was our task as volunteers to help the elderly men and women off of the buses, make them feel welcomed and serve them food. Simple right? Not really, well not at first at least. Starting a conversation with someone new is always a difficult task and if you throw in the generation gap it could go sour really quickly.Although it was awkward at first I was able to dive into an interesting conversation about cricket with one gentleman. At the end of the conversation I knew that today would be a life changing experience.
For the next few hours Shida and I pretty much just walked up and down doing odd jobs and hiding from the sun as much as was possible. The buses still hadn’t arrived and we were sleep deprived so we walked down the road to buy bag juices (you’re never too old to enjoy a bag of sugar water and red dye #4). On our way back we mingled with some other volunteers to help pass the time. The buses finally came some time after that and we got put into our groups to go to the different areas of Kingston. Then we sat down for another hour or so waiting for it to be our turn to head out. It was at some point during this wait that Meikle and Cespo finally appeared (I guess they got the memo) and we chatted about foolishness to help the time pass.
Eventually Rashida, Meikle myself and three other ladies loaded two boxes filled with food into a van and headed to Papine. We were on a mission. We had to use our judgement to determine who needed our help the most. You would not believe how hard this is to do on a Sunday afternoon. Like there were hardly any homeless people on the road. Meikle joked that they had gone home for Sunday dinner and we were starting to believe him when Rashida spotted a man in a park. Encouraged, we became more vigilant. We scanned the most unlikely of places and our pile of food started to decrease. We eventually came to a stand still so after driving through Papine one more time we expanded our boundary to include Hope Road and New Kingston.
We refused to return to Grafton Road with food. We watched as the pile of food shrunk with each thank you we received. The toothless smiles we received tugged at my heart and I knew that I found a new drug. We spotted one gentleman on Hope Road with a bunch of what we would consider garbage dangling from his neck and waist. To him they probably meant the world and he tied them to himself not to lose them. While conversing with him he said one of the items ( I can’t remember what it was 😥 really need to start making these posts sooner) was for protection from people who would trouble him. My heart melted as he said thank you a hundred times after we gave him a box of food. He pleaded for another and we could not deny him. There were many other heart warming moments like this throughout our drive but this definitely stood out the most.
We returned to 2B Grafton Road with empty boxes but filled hearts. We all exchanged numbers so we could meet up at future events. We regrouped with Denni and Cespo and mingled with other volunteers before parting ways. It was a day well spent. Although there were some issues with organization, it was certainly worth the wait.