There is no better feeling at the end of the day but viewing at the empty red stage, which was only hours ago full of meals prepared to distribute to people who can not afford it.
Collective spirit and a great motivation
Inspiring is the fact that the work is done by a team of dedicated people, so different one from another, yet with a strong collective spirit and a lot of motivation.
I am speaking about a team of volunteers and some employees of Esat Regain (the head of August food distribution project).
I already mentioned Philippe Brouant, the CEO, in our previous post Homeless are hungry in-spite August holiday season. The organisation which is controlled by Philippe, among others, runs some work centers, where they employ people who could otherwise hardly get any job, disabled among them and mothers with AIDS as well.
We will be publishing an interview with him in our next post, but now, I would like to devote a few words to people who volunteer to help in the food distribution center.
Doomed to succeed
I wrote in an earlier post about how we are called to accept diversity and adapt to each other.
I am firmly convinced that any organization which is able to overcome their differences and harness the good is doomed to succeed. The results of the August campaign speak for themselves (published here).
And speaking of accepting a different, when we were leaving the food distribution center the other day, Silva started a conversation:
‘Nace, you know how happy I am to learn to accept differences so intensively. Accepting also those things of the others that would otherwise repel me.’
Hm, this will be interesting conversation, I thought. Different images went through my head like all these people who come to the center for food; drug addicts, beggars, alcoholics off the street, homosexuals and people infected with HIV, people with mental illnesses, the elderly, single mothers, moms, young. So many different nationalities, races, religions and cultures.
‘I agree.’ said I. ‘Mind you anyone specific?’
‘Yes. For example you.’ answered Silva after some short hesitation.
Phew. Then she listed some of my weaknesses in specific cases and stressed that however as time goes by, she could start accepting them, with great help by work we do here. Now I was feeling better.
The conversation itself was not as interesting as I have imagined earlier, still I am happy that my wife can grow so intensely living beside me. 🙂
In the middle of the action
Moments before we open the door to people, the hall is full of action.
Some are preparing fruits and vegetables, other are cutting bread or preparing tables for games and candy for children.
Most of them are circulating around the tables with bags in their hands, walking from one filler to another and put the finished bags on the piling stage.
I wrote a few words about this already, but none about how interesting this kind of work can be, though at first glance it may seem dull. Me and Silva most often join in circling and filling the bags. This way we can best interact with others, but above all, it is the perfect ‘observer’ spot.Any organization which overcomes their differences and harness the good is doomed to succeed. Click To Tweet
We are watching the dynamics and watch people. We can feel a free and relaxed nature of Africans living here. Few of them come voluntarily to the center each day. They have so much life and joy so one can easily get infected as well.
Now for example, we are no longer surprised over seeing some African having ‘their moment’. One can step out of the circle and start dancing lively in the middle of the hall, just by hearing African musical rhythms in himself.
Some other may suddenly decide to lie down in the middle of the stage and laugh with all his heart, while others are just stepping over him and continue working.
Joy, kindness and openness to each other speak to us heavily. Even the simplicity and childishness, something that most of us have forgotten about a long time ago.
All the Simpsons, except Bart
I remember how I, together with the others, was moving in circles to fill the bag with food. I was a bit moody and deeply thinking about what to write in the next blog article, when someone from behind pats me on my shoulder.
I turned around and questionably looked over at the volunteer behind me.
‘Do you remember The Simpsons?’ she asked me.
Obviously we had different things in our minds. I admit, I had to force myself to cut my line of thoughts.
‘You mean that cartoon?’
‘Yes. The Simpsons.’
‘I remember,’ I told her.
‘Did you know that the author of cartoon has taken all the characters from his own family?’
‘No, I did not know that.’ I answered with a smile, thinking how to make sense out of it. Later I could find a connection but the thing is too personal to share here. 🙂
We were moving onward and keep filling in the bags; I turned my thoughts back to writing.
‘Except Bart,’ after a while said the volunteer again. ‘All the members were taken form his family, except Bart.’
Sometimes you just need a break
‘Interesting,’ I replied, now finally accepting the fact that God wants me to be present here and now, not thinking about the things which are only about to happen sometime in future.
Discussing Simpsons was completed, because I did not watch the cartoon often, and therefore I was not able to share a lot with a colleague unfortunately. However, I liked how it lifted my spirit and entertained me. God obviously uses all means to approach us.
From Russia to Pakistan
We are now already quite familiar with a few of the volunteers – our colleagues. We wrote about Filipino Vicemar already, we interact with her the most since she could help us with translations when needed.
But here are others as well. A volunteer from Egipt, working in Paris as decorator. Just before leaving for his vacations, he is helping at the distribution center for three years in a row now.
A mother and her son are also regular visitors around, coming from Russia. They came to Paris a few months ago, as mother got married to a Vietnamese living here.
I dare to say that there are less native French in the center than those coming form other territories such as Asia, Africa, Algeria and Pakistan. Isn’t this something special?
Prejudices and the pigeonholing
Europeans are so often victims of the pigeonholing by appearance and color, prejudices and fear. We could easily judge the man we see on the street as: ‘Another immigrant, my God. There are so many of them already!’ Without realizing that we are talking about a person that we know nothing about really.
One could at first glance say for example: ‘Another one who lives at the expense of the state.’ Not knowing that this same person is heading for the food distribution center, where he will spent the next eight hours working quietly and hard for people who can’t afford to buy some food.
Multikulti, yes or no?
I was once asked: ‘Are you a multi-culti as well?’
There seems to be a live discussion going on, and the term ‘multi-culti’ is something to be either pro or contra.
I can only say that me and Silva learned along our journey how to accept others and be open to another person. Not just in theory.
When you spend some of your time among people who are very different, getting to know them you might realize that they are our brothers and sisters of the same blood and the same Spirit. Some believes happen to change consequently.
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