Sometimes you don’t have to cross continents if you want to feed hungry people. Often, you can see hungry people if you step across the road.
Or, as is the case in the Geelong CBD, if you step across the road to Transit Place you’ll notice a little sign saying, “The Outpost.”
And there you can see hungry people.
I did. Last Sunday.
There were all kinds of people there I saw: old ladies, old men, middle aged people, guys in their thirties. I even saw a patiently waiting dog belonging to one of these people on a leash a few metres away, large brown eyes watching.
And what was this dog watching, with sad brown eyes?
The dog was watching a BBQ. A BBQ that occurs every Sunday, put on by The Outpost.
A fold up table is there, containing bread, coleslaw, grated cheese and various barbequed meats. There’s char-grilled potatoes and expertly diced onions.
Before the BBQ is set up comes a couple of hours spent in the industrial back kitchen of the neighbouring Waterfront Church, which supports the Outpost.
This is the place where the giant bowl of coleslaw is carefully made; where latex-gloved hands grate carrots and brave cooks brace the inevitable tear-jerking qualities of countless onions being diced into symmetrical squares, ideal for sautéing on a hot BBQ.
Then, as I placed hamburgers on buns and tried to squeeze the perfect amount of tomato or barbeque sauce to patrons I realised something.
Every single person I served was polite. Pleasant. Was a pleasure to serve.
That is what blew me away.
What was I expecting? I don’t know.
Personally, when I’m hungry I find it hard to smile and make small talk and try and be amicable. When I’m hungry, really hungry, I find myself occupied with this human need. And it’s harder to smile.
How would I be if I was waiting in the line for a free barbeque lunch, perhaps the first decent meal I’d had in a little while? What would you be like?
So, that’s what I learnt, that’s what I saw and that’s what my story is: these people were hungry but they were gracious.
They were patient. They didn’t push in or shove or generally – act in an inequitable manner.
“I’ll just wait till everyone has eaten and then I’ll take what’s left over,” said one woman.
Another patron had said exactly the same thing.
The loaves of white bread were diminishing quickly, the cooked hamburgers (mostly preferred to sausages) had no time left to contemplate life on the serving place and the cheese ran out at 12.15pm.
Oddly, the coleslaw was left uneaten by many.
“That’s not coleslaw,” offered one discerning patron, not rudely but in a matter-of-fact manner. “I’m Dutch and I know what coleslaw looks like.”
Regardless of opinions of coleslaw, regarding of how pretty the Geelong Waterfront precinct is looking, the unwanted but ever-present Hunger is around as well.
The Outpost, in conjunction with Waterfront Church in Geelong are putting on a Christmas banquet for those-in-need and/or are homeless. If you’d like to find out a bit more about the event or even donate something towards it you can check out http://www.givenow.com.au/lifecrycommunityinc