I was privileged to be part of the Packaged Food Dinner Team preparing and delivering food to the Freedom Village at Parliament. We packed about 1600 meals into individual tin-foil containers, each evening with an encouragin message written beside the food inside. An amazing experience of community working together. As volunteers arrived each day at Food HQ this community grew into something beautiful and lasting. Many volunteers came after being mandated out of thier careers, now campers or supporters. All were devastated about what the Government had done and continued to do to our people. Separate, segregate, disunite, dob on neighbours, treat and speak disrepectfully to those with a different opinion. Our Kiwi Community was in tatters, bleeding and in pain.
A New Freedom Community
This New Community grew organically as new challenges, changes, situations and numbers at tent city enlarged. Volunteers came and humbled themselves after losing professional careers and pitched in, willing to do any job that was needed, washing dishes by the hours, heating food, cooking rice, chopping herbs, nothing was menial, all was done with much love, grace and huge willingness to serve. Noone expected anyone to do anything they would not do themselves. True servant leadership.
People came brokenhearted, stressed, all with a story. They needed to be part of something positive, worthwhile, a safe place to share thier concerns and have some fun. Our priority was building a new culture of valuing and honoring one another, not giving orders but asking, collaborating, discussing the best way of doing things.
TEAM.. Together Everyone Achieves More.
One of the most important things I realized very early was to begin to build a team from day 1. We did’nt know we were in for a long haul or what that even looked like. It was an intense and demanding 6-7 hours but we could sustain it because we soon had this well oiled machine called TEAM.. Together Everyone Achieves More. You came when you could and we carried and covered one another.
Our Team soon comprised of 10 leaders and up to 15 regular volunteers, who faithfully came every day because they were having fun and feeling valued and useful. Most of the Team Leaders were professionals who had recently lost their careers, were struggling with family or financial issues and had been treated extremely disrespectfully. These people were chosen because they understood Servant Leadership
We all came to help because we wanted to feel part of the protest. Some camped, while many supported them to do it.
Home cooks were our champions !
Home cooks were our champions, they arrived with all their favorite dishes, often every day and provided the most delicious, nutritious and varied menu which would compete against any restaurant. Huge pots of curry, stir fries, indian dishes, trays of lasagne, pies, macaroni cheese of course, pasta dishes, masses of salads, roasties, potatoes, all our favourite. One night we served our Kaumatua fresh snapper and water cress, we made special dished for them every day. We also made 60 special kids meals which went out early to feed our kids first in thier own space. Lots of mac and cheese, spaghetti bol and hamburgers and chips for them.
Many people from all acrooss NZ sent food, truckloads of meat, money, ordered groceries delivered , they offered whatever was needed. Fridges, freezers, shelving, huge pots, dozens and dozens of eggs, fans, food packaging( we used about 1600 every night) gas stoves. We were re part of this community which established the beach head at Grant Road.
This team met many needs as they served together to feed the people under many quite difficult circumstances.
No ovens for heating food, just a gas BBQ, thanks guys….
No shelves for a start to hold the truckloads of groceries which arrived every day.
Not enough cold storage until fridges and freezers arrived pretty soon.
Unsuitable and unhygienic tables and areas. It was a mechanical man-pad turned into a kitchen almost overnight
Every night hygienically packaged food was provided for the campers. No one complained, the team improvised and made it work. It was fun, exciting, challenging but we were doing it together no bosses, no control, collaboration, discussing.
People felt inspired, lifted up, healed, useful, accepted, part of something good. and they came back every day. Of course it was organized chaos but it was working well, providing around 1600 plus meals every night, by an amazing team of home cooks, delivery, volunteers who arrived put on gloves and joined the team. And of course our amazing runners who took all these 1600 meals down to the Serving Tent to distribute to the campers.
An amazing experience
What an amazing experience, I feel so privileged and happy that I was involved from day 1 and met so many incredible people to journey with.
My priority and main focus now is being part of two groups of good people who desire to build safe and trusting communities, sharing skills, developing a community garden, supporting each other in many different ways locally, to rebuild a place where freedom reigns and my opinion matters as does thiers. .
These are my tribe.