Friday, 11 December 2009
Urban Survival; Helping Sydney's Homeless
Friday night saw the Hazardous Pioneers lend a hand to the Exodus Foundation in Sydney's city centre, handing out food to the local homeless, less-well off and members of the general public for a good couple of hours.
We arrived outside St.Mary's (massive) cathedral on time, and already queues had formed (side note - St.Mary's cathedral, a house of the lord, contribute to carrying out the message of Jesus, by giving NOTHING, not one penny, towards the homelessness situation in Sydney. It's just convenient to meet in its vicinity, simply because it's such a landmark.)
Not quite sure what to make of the queues, we waited for a little bit and then sure enough, the Yellow Wagon arrived.
And from then on, it was straight in! Rubber gloves on and the food be a dishin'!
The Yellow Wagon had all its food ready to go, all prepared and pre-heated to nothing less than piping hotness and steadily, the masses showed their heads at the wagon's side.
Our job was to dish out bread and muffins. You could have called us the baker bros, as within seconds we were armed with knowledge about wholemeal and granary loafs, fig scones and pesto rolls, ciabatta sticks and poppy seed delights, fruit blocks and fresh herb tear-aparts.
To be quite honest, I had never seen so much bread. 15 bags in fact.
And bakery delights weren't all.
A massive box of salad dressed with ceasar sauce, dozens of apples, a crate of grapes, a box of cherries, a delivery cage's worth of various milk flavours and even fresh water accompanied our sector. Not to mention the Yellow Wagon's selection of roasted vegetables and meats.
And to be honest, I was humbled. Compared to the set up that I am used to back home, this was a million times better.
Every day, 'Baker's Delight' (a bakery chain store across Sydney) throws out their excess produce. Someone from the Exodus Foundation then drives around the city, collecting this surplus.
In an array of bin bags, the goods are delivered to rendez-vous by 8pm, where they meet a van containing fold-down tables and the necessary catering equipment to serve all the food up.
For about 2 hours, food is available to any one that needs it. And we probably only shifted about 2/5ths of the bread, if that.
In fact, there was so much, we even got fed(!);
The important thing to realise here is that this food comes from corporate donations; shops. People here in Sydney are wise enough to realise that not everyone benefits from living in a capitalist society, and so with their help, they can donate a little bit here and there to ensure that everyone can at least have a meal.
Generosity seems just that little bit more widespread over here. And it was that which humbled me so much.
If only the people back home could witness (and hopefully with this post, they can) how it was done over here.
In my opinion, I believe that the homeless in Sydney can be well fed, 7 days a week with this system. In other words, the Exodus Foundation has 'tapped it'. Food is accessible 3 times a day, 7 days a week, all for free and at a nutritional level.
It really is a fantastic thing to witness and just shows, that homelessness the world over could be 'nursed' effectively, if just a couple of food-companies donated their surplus food to the needy.
From volunteering with the guys from the Exodus Foundation I have now learnt how to 'nurse the wound' that is homelessness.
Back home, when doing the homeless runs, I would often question how valuable this process really was; going out week after week, giving out food and supplies to the needy, when it was the same faces I was seeing, week in, week out.
It wasn't getting the supplies and food out to them that was the issue, (even though getting enough to distribute back home sometimes proved to be an effort). The issue was getting them off the streets, which led me to want to go and speak to the councils and politicians to see what was being done about it.
But serving up over here has made me realise that sadly, within any Capitalist system, there will ALWAYS be homelessness. It is an intrinsic value to a system that thrives on inequality.
But that doesn't mean that everyone has to go hungry or live without sufficient supplies.
If a few of us co-operate, everyone can get by, and Sydney's set up is living proof of that.
Granted, it may not be glamorous or comfortable, but at least the less fortunate now have a meal in their stomachs and a blanket to sleep under, be it for one night or the rest of the year.
And for the time that we are stuck with this insult of a societal structure, the least we can do is make sure that our fellow brothers and sisters are fed and watered.
Thanks to everyone at the Exodus Foundation that let us help out, we will be donating more of our energy to help you out over the next month!