Dear friends of ‘suppe og vennskap’,
A few weeks ago, we had an encounter that I just couldn’t forget. We were on our usual turn handing out our soup. We also approached a man sitting on the steps in front of Oslo S. He didn’t ask us for anything, but he seemed lost, so we wanted to help him. He gratefully took the soup but wasn’t very talkative and just started eating. Therefore, we went on and continued our turn when suddenly a stranger approached us and congratulated us. “I tried to give that man food many times, but he never accepted it, he just threw it away”, the stranger said, “you did a good job!”.
We were happy being able to help but didn’t give much thought to it. Five minutes later, we noticed the stranger from before trying to catch up, so we waited for him. He went looking for us wanting to donate all the money he had on him, exactly 8 krones, to buy new food for people on the street. Of course, we didn’t want to take his money, but he insisted, convinced that he also wanted to be helpful in some way. Finally, he managed to put the coins in one of our volunteer’s hand, pointed to the sky and said “This isn’t from me. It’s from God!”
This was such a beautiful moment for me, not only because of this stranger’s humility, but also because it was a perfect analogy for ‘suppe og vennskap’. The stranger’s 8 krones weren’t much, we can’t really buy anything from it, but he was determined to help and wanted to show his concern, just like us volunteers do: If I don’t go to ‘suppe’, it still exist. They are not relying on me specifically. And we don’t save people – no one who is starving is saved from death because we are handing out soup every other Wednesday. This encounter really put things in perspective: We shouldn’t think of us as life savers or better people, since handing out soup is rather a gesture of friendship than anything else. We are not superheroes saving the world, but we show, that we don’t forget the people on the streets and that we feel with them and together can accomplish much with little.
For me, ‘suppe’ in general is about solidarity. We are a group from the catholic church of St. Olav, but not everybody in our group is Christian, some are atheists, some have other beliefs. However, we have this joint project to show solidarity to each other and to the people enjoying our soup. These encounters with so many different people, on and off the street, are the reason why you rarely forget a soup turn.