This past week while there have been no classes, I have been helping out at the Posada Santa Maria, a program to provide meals to people who don’t have the resources to feed themselves here in Santa Tecla. The program and the dynamics are really quite amazing. Rather than trying to feed everyone all at once with a huge room full of tables, they dedicated about a third of the dining area to being an open air courtyard containing a tropical garden that some of the volunteers help to maintain. It is by far the nicest “soup kitchen” I’ve ever seen. Typically, there are two to three seatings over the course of ninety minutes to make sure that everyone is fed.
They’ve chosen not to serve the food cafeteria style; each volunteer is assigned to be the “servidor” for a single table of six. Once people are seated, the servidor goes up and gets the food from the kitchen where other volunteers put it on plates. The servidor serves it, says grace for the table, gets the drinks for the table (often a choice of coffee, water or fresh juice) and then takes care of cleaning the table.
I thought the hard part would be figuring out how to say grace in Spanish, but I don’t think God needs a lot of fancy words, just thanks. Getting the drink orders right has been more challenging. Serving people there has certainly improved my Spanish and some of them like to practice what English they know.
The really nice aspect is that by staying with the table, I get to know some of the people. Some regularly make a point of greeting me. Prior to starting here, I’d heard stories that some of our students eat there and wondered if it would be awkward. It is one of those things that if you don’t treat it as awkward, it is not awkward. The past couple of days, students have come over to say “hola” and chat. They still call me “teacher” and “profe” there, which makes some of the others wonder.
I was really concerned when I learnt that there would be no classes this week, but this has worked out quite well.
The images here are from my iPhone. They show me in my “servidor” vest and some photos of the room. Some of the people we serve are a bit shy and I chose not to make images of them.