I began a volunteer requirement for my school a week or so ago. There were a few options that were recommended to us for our volunteer job, one being a comedor social – a soup kitchen. After several attempts to find the place, find someone to talk to, and settle upon which hours I would be volunteering – it was all finally figured out.
I started volunteering at 8:30 on a Thursday night, apparently volunteers are not allowed to choose their time of service. Without knowing what I would be doing, and worrying if I had on the proper attire I arrived. Once I arrived, I stood at the locked gate surrounded by men who were waiting for the comedor social to open. I nudged my way in front of them and sought out the attention of another worker who let me through the heavy iron door. The other workers, 3 or 4 men and 1 woman, had little to say. I felt like the black sheep, with the added weight of not understanding the other ‘naaaaaa.’ I stood around without knowing what to do for several minutes. I ended up carrying boxes from the storage room and setting them in the front of the room. A few moments later, it was time for the comedor to open. A large man stood at the door, more or less the bouncer. One man was asked to leave after having a spat with another man in the room. In only a few minutes the little room was filled with people. It was mostly men of varying ages and only 2 or 3 women. Their clothes were dark and torn, their faces unshaven, and their hair long. After taking in the scene a bit, I was handed a large container of soup and instructed to walk around and fill everyone’s bowl. Then I and a few others, retrieved the bowls and filled the plates with some type of grain and pork dish. Many muslims were in the room, who received the same dish but without pork. The non-pork version, came about from a few workers going through a large container with their bare hands and sorting out the pork pieces. Some asked for seconds, and all ate quickly. They finished their meal with a yogurt/pudding and then left. I finished my night by retrieving the tableware, cleaning the tables, and mopping the floor.
I left feeling as though I had just completed day 1 of punishment for some unbeknownst crime. I also left with a feeling of triumph – I survived.
I made it back to my house and told my señora where I had been. Her response was flooded with “pobrecita”.
My first experience volunteering also happened to be my last.
Funny the way it is, if you think about it.
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong.