Christmas with the Poor at RCH
For almost 20 years now, the Roman Catholic Hospital prepares a meal for the homeless people in Windhoek on December 26th. Many years ago, we started this custom in the old parish hall, which was a useful and decent place to seat the people, had paper table cloths and the chinaware and cutlery from that place, all of which made a nice setting for a meal.
In the beginning came about 20 people; now they are over 40. Most of them are grown-up males, all thin with torn clothes. With the demolishing of the parish hall and when the new Hospital construction began, the Christmas setting and flair has also gone, as we have now only our front garden with the benches under the trees to seat the people. They know the time and place, by 10:00 the first ones are sitting around and waiting for food. We come after holy Mass that is around the same time.
We have already prepared plastic plates, forks and teaspoons, and the kitchen cooked 3 big pots of food: meat, noodles or rice, and vegetables. Juice in a 20 liter bucket, serving spoons and mugs are ready. When we come with our food pots they all come to the fence, and each one wants to be served first. Telling them to stand in one row is useless, each one is a row. After some Christmas Carols and “Our Father” we start. Everybody gets equal portions of noodles, vegetables and meat; some say the vegetables are not good for them. Yet, they still get them and eat them because the gravy makes them tasty. Often they come for a second portion, and many say, “thank you.” This year we had pudding for dessert and after the question: “Do you want pudding?” they said, “No.” But one took it and thereafter, the others also tasted it and finally all wanted some. “We did not know that there was a food like that”, was the reply.
Scarcely, come the ‘old demanding’ or ‘rude youngster’. When the pots are empty, all sit in expectation of what is coming. They know they will be getting some clothing, and that is important for them. Little papers are distributed, with numbers to prevent one getting two pieces and the last has nothing. The principle is: You give me your number, I give you some clothing. This year, like most years, they received T-shirts, nice green ones with a round collar. Size is immaterial, a Medium fits most, and few need a large. Children get a small size, for women and girls we usually have some extras.
Last year, all were given a proper pair of jeans, but not a single one wore them this year. Sold or changed for liquor? This is all possible, we don’t ask. Once we distributed the clothing which we got from the Sisters in Nabuamis, from the German container, but that was all far too big for them. After having received the T-shirt, they walk away. “Thank you, Sisters, thank you” , they say. we don’t know where they stay, sleep, wash, or eat. They are increasing in numbers each year, especially more youngsters. It makes you sad and worried to see them.
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